Nigerian villagers took Royal Dutch Shell to court last week in a pollution case that campaigners say will open the door for more compensation claims against international companies. Villagers from the heavily polluted Niger Delta region, along with Friends of the Earth, accused Shell of polluting their land and waterways in three oil spills from 2004 to 2007. The case marks the first time a Dutch company has been sued in the Netherlands for the actions of a foreign subsidiary. Friends of the Earth said that if the claim is successful, it will give allow plaintiffs more opportunity to take on multinationals by allowing them to sue parent companies in their home countries. Shell has previously stated that the spills were due to thieves attempting to steal oil, and that 70 percent of its spills were due to sabotage or theft. Ian Craig, Shell’s executive vice president for sub-Saharan Africa, said at the Hague in January 2011 that paying for spills caused by sabotage would create a "perverse incentive" for criminals. Allard Castelein, Shell's vice president for environment, said that Shell has done its part to clean up the spill. "The matter has been resolved as far as we are concerned and we do not properly understand why Friends of the Earth has submitted the case," he said. The Nigerians' lawyer said that Shell had not properly maintained pipelines. "hell did not operate as a conscientious oil company," she said. For the full story, see Earlier: and