Vietnam chemical warfare

French court dismisses case over Agent Orange defoliant use in Vietnam War

A red warning poster reading "Dioxin-contominated area. Livestock and poultry raising and fishing are probihited", is seen at the Ho Sen or Lotus Lake located next to Danang airport, a former US airbase, where a ground-breaking ceremony of the joint US-Vietnam Dioxin Cleaning Project is held on August 9, 2012.
A red warning poster reading "Dioxin-contominated area. Livestock and poultry raising and fishing are probihited", is seen at the Ho Sen or Lotus Lake located next to Danang airport, a former US airbase, where a ground-breaking ceremony of the joint US-Vietnam Dioxin Cleaning Project is held on August 9, 2012. AFP - HOANG DINH NAM

A French court on Monday dismissed the case of Tran To Nga, a 78-year-old French-Vietnamese woman, against 14 chemical multinationals over the use of the Agent Orange defoliant by the US military during the Vietnam War.

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The trial opened on 25 January before the court of justice in the southern Paris suburb of Evry.

After more than three months of deliberation, the court reportedly ruled on that it did not have the jurisdiction to judge a case involving the wartime actions of the US government.

Tran To Nga, a former journalist born in 1942 in what was then French Indochina, accused the chemical firms - including Monsanto and Dow Chemical - of causing grievous harm to her and others by selling Agent Orange defoliant to the US government, which used it to devastating effect during the war.

She also accused them of causing damage to the environment.

Acting on orders

Dismissing the case, the court said that the companies were acting "on the orders" of the US government which was engaged in a "sovereign act".

NGOs estimate that four million people in Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia were exposed to the 76 million litres of Agent Orange sprayed by US forces to destroy ground cover and food sources in its battle with Communist North Vietnamese troops between 1962 and 1971.

Vietnam 'Agent Orange' trial against chemical companies opens in France

Tran To Nga suffers from typical Agent Orange effects, including type 2 diabetes and an extremely rare insulin allergy.

One of her daughters died of a malformation of the heart.

The multinationals have long argued that they could not be held responsible for the use the American military made of their product.

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