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Judge dismisses IBM apartheid lawsuit

Charges 'bordered on the frivolous'

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A US judge has thrown out a case seeking billions in damages from companies charged with benefitting from South Africa's apartheid system.

New York District Court judge John Sprizzo gave his ruling on Monday, saying the charges "bordered on the frivolous", according to a report from the AP. A number of lawsuits filed throughout the US had been consolidated in Sprizzo's court. The companies charged with profiting from apartheid included giants such as IBM, ExxonMobil and Citigroup. The lawsuits against these firms were seeking damages of up to $400bn.

Sprizzo used harsh word to describe apartheid and questioned the morality of companies doing business with South Africa while such as system was in place, the news service reported. In the end, however, he ruled that the US companies did not directly cause any number of crimes including murder and torture by their business actions.

Plaintiffs had argued that the US companies supplied things such as oil, computers and financial services that made the machinery of apartheid possible.

South African president Thabo Mbeki has said in the past that he would like the lawsuits to be thrown out. Mbeki said that many of the companies have helped to rebuild South Africa and that their investments in the country are still much needed. The lawsuits are somewhat similar to those faced by IBM, when it was charged with providing computers that helped the Nazis with the Holocaust. ®

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