A U.S. judge says a lawsuit filed by Burmese villagers against oil giant Unocal over alleged human rights abuses during the construction of a gas pipeline in Burma can proceed.
The Los Angeles judge's decision Tuesday means the case may go to trial before a jury.
The suit alleges that Burmese soldiers forced male villagers to become slave laborers on the 'Yadana' pipeline project, in which Unocal was a minority partner. The villagers claim the soldiers guarding the pipeline during its 1990s construction physically abused them.
In January the same judge ruled that Unocal can not be held responsible for the conduct of its subsidiaries, but should have known about the possibility of rights abuses. Unocal has denied that human rights abuses occurred.
Information for this report is provided by AP and Reuters.