The second-largest U.S. oil company sees itself as a victim, and it's going on a PR offensive to explain why. In an "unusual move," Chevron "has approached the media to offer a briefing" on an upcoming civil trial, "in which it faces charges of wrongful death, civil conspiracy, torture and negligence." The case, Bowoto versus Chevron, was brought by Nigerian villagers and stems from a 1998 incident where the Nigerian military shot at protesters on one of Chevron's offshore platforms. The soldiers were paid by Chevron and flown to the platform in Chevron helicopters, according to EarthRights International. A U.S. district court judge recently concluded that Chevron personnel "were directly involved" in and approved of the attack. Chevron denies the charges, saying the protesters "took Chevron workers hostage and attacked law enforcement when it arrived." Chevron has hired Singer Associates, the San Francisco PR firm that defended the city zoo after one of its tigers escaped its enclosure and killed one person. Chevron's PR push is part of a trend of companies doing more media work around legal cases. The traditional "'no comment' approach" yields "the entire dialog to the other side," explained PR executive Erin Powers.
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