Latin America & Caribbean

Chile miners sue lawyer for fraud over underground ordeal

Miners Victor Zamora, Jorge Galleguillos, Luis Urzua and Mario Gomez arrive at the courthouse in Santiago on 2 November, 2015. Image copyright Google
Image caption Some of the miners went to the courthouse in Santiago for the filing of the lawsuit

Nine of the 33 miners who in 2010 were trapped by a rockfall in a mine in Chile for 69 days before being rescued are suing their lawyers.

The group accuses the lawyers of cheating them out of money.

The lawyers negotiated the rights relating to films, TV series and books based on the miners' ordeal.

The plaintiffs allege that they were badly advised by the lawyers, who they say conned them into signing away their rights.

'Rescued again'

The plaintiffs said that lawyers Remberto Rodrigo Valdes and Fernando 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".

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Antonio Banderas (left) plays miner Mario Sepulveda (right) in the film The 33

Luis Urzua, who was the shift leader when the rockfall happened, said at the courthouse that "today we're being rescued for a second time".

"The contracts we signed were not what the lawyers said they would be, for example of the $150m [£97m] paid to our company, we only received 17%," Mr Urzua said.

He also said that he hoped that by bringing the lawsuit the remaining 24 miners would be convinced of the validity of the plaintiffs' claim.

"Now they'll see that we're not acting on a whim."

But Mario Sepulveda, one of the miners who has not joined the lawsuit, said the plaintiffs were "letting themselves be led astray by people who haven't read the contracts properly".

A Hollywood film about the miners' rescue starring Antonio Banderas as Mr Sepulveda is currently on release.

The miners became celebrities when their rescue was transmitted live by TV stations around the world.

They had hoped their financial future would be secured, but five years on many say they still suffer from the psychological scars left by their ordeal.

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