U.S. coal company Drummond will go on trial Monday, facing charges it ordered the killing of three union leaders at its coal mine in northern Colombia.

The lawsuit alleges that Drummond's top Colombian executive paid right-wing paramilitaries to kill the men in 2001.  The company denies the charges.

The civil trial will be held in the U.S. state of Alabama, where Drummond is based.

Human rights activists say the practice of paying protection money to right-wing militias is common among multinationals operating in Colombia.

Earlier this year, U.S. banana company Chiquita admitted it paid $1.7 million in protection money to Colombian paramilitaries from 1997 to 2004.  In June, the company paid out $25 million as part of a plea deal with U.S. prosecutors.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.