Volkswagen production center in São Bernardo do Campo - Brazil.
Volkswagen production center in São Bernardo do Campo - Brazil.

German automaker Volkswagen AG says it has commissioned a historian to research its role during Brazil’s 1964-1985 military dictatorship.

Volkswagen has faced accusations that it collaborated with the military regime and drew up black lists on employees. A group of former Volkswagen employees in Brazil has filed a civil lawsuit against the German carmaker in November 2015. The former employees accuse the firm of allowing its workers to be detained and tortured under Brazil’s military rule from 1964 to 1985.

Twelve former workers say they were arrested and tortured at Volkswagen’s huge factory in Sao Bernardo do Campo.

The company said in a statement Thursday that Christopher Kopper, a history professor at Bielefeld University in Germany, has been commissioned to “clarify” what role it played.

It said that Kopper will start “as soon as possible” and will travel to Brazil. The project should take about a year and VW said the findings will be made public.

VW board member Christine Hohmann-Dennhardt said: “We want to shed light on the dark years of the military dictatorship and explain the behavior of those responsible at that time in Brazil and, if applicable, Germany.”

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