MIAMI (CBSMiami/AP) — Produce giant Chiquita Brands International has asked the U.S. court to drop lawsuits, against the company, filed by thousands of Colombians whose relatives were killed in a civil war.

At a Thursday hearing, a Chiquita attorney asked an 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel to dismiss the lawsuits. A ruling is unlikely for months.

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The company said the U.S. is the wrong place for the lawsuits to be pursued.

Chiquita once had huge banana operations in Colombia and paid $1.7 million to a right-wing paramilitary group responsible for the deaths. Chiquita says Colombia is the proper lawsuit forum.

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Lawyers for the Colombians say the cases belong in U.S. courts because Chiquita is headquartered in the U.S. and made decisions here about the payments.

Chiquita pleaded guilty in 2007 to U.S. criminal charges over the payments and paid a $25 million fine.

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