French court to hold hearing on Agent Orange lawsuit

By VNA   April 25, 2024 | 10:23 pm PT
French court to hold hearing on Agent Orange lawsuit
Tran To Nga (L, 2nd) at a press conference about her lawsuit against U.S. chemical corporations for their Agent Orange supply in the Vietnam War, on April 25, 2024. Photo by VNA
The Court of Appeal of Paris will open a hearing in early May regarding a lawsuit filed by Vietnamese-French Tran To Nga against U.S. chemical corporations that supplied Agent Orange for the U.S. army during the Vietnam War.

Nga said at a hybrid press conference on April 25 that Vietnam had more than 3 million AO/dioxin victims at the time she filed the lawsuit in May 2009; however, the impact of the toxic chemical has lingered for generations, even to the fourth generation, increasing the number to over 4 million.

"I’m fighting for not only myself but also millions of victims in Vietnam and many other countries," Nga said.

She said she always has the backbone to follow the lawsuit as this is a just and noble fight.

William Bourdon, one of the two lawyers who have given voluntary support to Nga and millions of Vietnamese victims since the start of the lawsuit, said that they will have to provide strong evidence convincing the Court of Appeal to reject the Crown Court of Evry city’s irrational decision in favor of the multinationals that produced toxic herbicide causing unprecedented humanitarian, health and environmental disaster.

There are many legal arguments showing that the firms were not forced by the U.S. Government but voluntarily joined the bidding and produced the poison, he said, expressing his optimism about the court’s result.

Lawyer Bertrand Repolt said that Nga has garnered enthusiastic support from AO/dioxin victims as well as many associations and organizations, which give the lawyers strength to follow this legal fight.

At the press conference, many organizations voiced their solidarity with Nga. Collectif Vietnam Dioxine said it will organize a meeting to support Nga and AO/dioxin victims at the République Square in Paris on May 5. Meanwhile a charity party will be held on April 26 night to raise funds for Nga’s lawsuit.

Nga, born in 1942, graduated from a Hanoi university in 1966 and became a war correspondent of the Liberation News Agency, now the Vietnam News Agency. She worked in some of the most heavily AO/dioxin affected areas in southern Vietnam such as Cu Chi, Ben Cat and along the Ho Chi Minh Trail, ultimately experiencing contamination effects herself. She suffered from five out of the 17 diseases, disorders, deformities, and malformations associated with dioxin exposure recognized by the U.S.

Among her three children, the first child died of heart defects and the second suffers from a blood disease.

In 2009, Nga appeared as a witness at the Court of Public Opinion in Paris, France against the U.S. chemical companies.

On April 16, 2015, the Crown Court of Evry City in the suburb of Paris held the first hearing on the case, but since then, lawyers of the sued chemical companies tried every way to prolong the procedures.

On May 10, 2021, the Evry Crown Court rejected her lawsuit, saying it did not have jurisdiction to hear the case, a ruling that disappointed the Vietnamese and international public.

However, Nga and her lawyers decided to file an appeal, and the struggle for justice for AO/dioxin victims is still underway.

From 1961-1971, U.S. troops sprayed more than 80 million liters of herbicides—44 million liters of which were AO, containing nearly 370 kilograms of dioxin—over southern Vietnam.

Around 4.8 million Vietnamese were exposed to the toxic chemical. Many of the victims have died, while millions of their descendants are living with deformities and diseases as a direct result of the chemical’s effects.

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