Nine of the famous 33 miners, trapped five years ago for 69 days about 2,295 feet deep in a mineshaft in northern Chile, filed suit against their former lawyers, accusing them of fraud.
The miners say their former attorneys Remberto Valdes and Fernando Garcia, who represented "the 33," cheated them out of money, including royalties for the upcoming Hollywood motion picture of their 69-day saga, a book deal and their televised rescue that mesmerized millions worldwide.
The 33 miners were welcomed like heroes after they were rescued. But later, many ran out of money and some began suffering from health and psychological problems.
According to the lawsuit, the miners' attorney claims they were "being pressured into signing contracts ceding their rights, plus the deception of making them believe it would be the miners themselves who would control the companies" founded to handle their business opportunities.
The miners said the lawyers committed fraud in setting up those companies to manage business activities in the name of "the 33," since they never saw any of the income.
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The distrust goes back to 2010, when the group of miners now filing suit reviewed the contracts drawn up in association with attorneys Valdes and Garcia, and realized that "we had no rights in the matter, all the money was going to the attorneys," Luis Urzua recalled.
The miners who signed the lawsuit were Juan Carlos Aguilar, Jorge Galleguillos, Víctor Zamora, Richard Villarroel, Osman Araya, Mario Gomez, Claudio Acuña, Ariel Ticona and Luis Urzua, who concluded that "we have nothing to lose, but a lot to gain, because this is payback time."
They all have been banking their hopes on "The 33," a filming starring Antonio Banderas and Juliette Binoche, out in U.S. theaters on Nov. 13. The movie was released in Chile earlier this year marking the fifth anniversary of the mine collapse.
Based on reporting by EFE and The Associated Press.