A civil lawsuit against Volkswagen was filed Tuesday in Sao Paulo accusing the company of allowing the torture and detention of employees opposed to Brazil's former military dictatorship.
The complaint comes amid a global scandal in which the German automaker admitted 11 million of its diesel cars are equipped with devices that can cheat air pollution tests.
But in Brazil, the focus is on its activities during the military dictatorship between 1964 and 1985.
"Volkswagen was not the only company involved, but it had a management role in Sao Paulo and even coordinated other" companies, Sebastiao Neto, one of the officials of the Workers' Forum for Truth, Justice and Activism told AFP.
"Volkswagen employees were victims of torture and illegal detention, and others were laid off and placed on blacklists," said Rosa Cardoso, a lawyer for some of the alleged victims and one of the lawyers coordinating the work the National Truth Commission, set up in 2012 by President Dilma Rousseff to investigate the crimes of the military dictatorship.
The complaint says 12 former employees were arrested and tortured in the Volkswagen factory in Sao Bernardo do Campo, near Sao Paulo, and dozens of people there were placed on a blacklist.
"They took me in handcuffs to the personnel department and there they started to torture me," one of them, Lucio Bellentani, a communist activist and former Volkswagen employee, told AFP.