A U.S. court of appeals ruled yesterday that a lawsuit accusing Royal Dutch/Shell of assisting in the torture and murder of Nigerian environmental activists can be heard in the U.S., rather than in England. The plaintiffs, including at least one resident of the U.S., contend that the Shell division based in Nigeria took land for oil development without adequately compensating locals and polluted air and water in the Ogoni region of Nigeria. They also allege that the company recruited Nigerian police and military to attack locals and suppress opposition to its development projects. In 1995, nine environmental activists who had protested Shell developments, including well-known author Ken Saro-Wiwa, were hanged by the Nigerian government.