9 Chilean 'miracle miners' sue lawyers

2015-11-03 11:36


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Santiago - Nine Chilean miners trapped underground in 2010 in an ordeal that captured world attention sued their lawyers on Monday, accusing them of cheating them out of the rights to their story.

The nine men, part of a group of 33 that spent 69 days trapped underground after a collapse at the San Jose mine in northern Chile, accused lawyers Remberto Rodrigo Valdes and Fernando Garcia of defrauding them with a dodgy deal to create a company to manage their rights.

"Today we're being rescued for the second time," said plaintiff Luis Urzua, the foreman who acted as the leader of the trapped miners and was the last to return to the surface when they were saved.

"We've been fighting for four years to show that our rights were violated."

The nine plaintiffs said Valdes and Garcia "misled the 33, making them believe they would manage their own company, only to harm them and appropriate monies that rightfully belonged to them."

The miners say the lawyers convinced all 33 men to set up a company to manage the rights to their story, and that they agreed to give up their rights for about $5 700 each.

The lawsuit deepens a fissure that has emerged in the rescued group in recent years, accentuated last August by the release of "The 33," a movie based on their misadventure and starring Antonio Banderas as miner Mario Sepulveda.

The real-life Sepulveda, the most charismatic of the group, took issue with his comrades' lawsuit.

"It's a shame they're being so ignorant and letting themselves be led astray by people who haven't read the contracts properly," he said.

But one of the plaintiffs, Victor Zamora, insisted the dispute was not between the nine miners and the rest of the group.

"It's not about fighting the [other] miners, because we're a very united group," he said.

"The division we have within the group is because of what the lawyers have done to us."

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