Paris court dismisses probe into mass poisoning of French West Indies

AFP - LIONEL CHAMOISEAU

In a highly sensitive case that relates to the poisoning of up to 90 percent of the population of Martinique and Guadeloupe by a pesticide used on banana plantations, French court judges have put an end to the affair, claiming legal challenges on the effects of the chlordecone chemical were lodged long after its use was discontinued.

On Monday, investigating judges dismissed a court challenge into the massive poisoning of the French West Indies with chlordecone, a pesticide authorised in banana plantations until 1993.

The unfavourable decision, which came to light on Thursday from judicial sources close to the case, had been anticipated by elected officials and the inhabitants of Martinique and Guadeloupe, who have consistently warned that "justice would be denied".

The ruling from the Paris court's public health and environment division – which is more than 300 pages long – has effectively put an end to further investigation into the chlordecone claims which began in 2008.

In what is seen as a rare move, the two judges concluded their decision with a five page explanation for the reasoning behind their dismissal of the legal action.

However, they admit that the chlordecone pollution of the Antilles is a "health scandal" and an "environmental attack" whose human, economic and social consequences "will affect the daily lives of the inhabitants [of Martinique and Guadeloupe] for many years".

For the Confédération paysanne – the French farmers and agricultural union – the dismissal of the chlordecone case is a "disgrace".


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