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19 Aug 2017

José Marques, Folha de São Paulo (Brazil)

Brazil: Courts suspends criminal case that charged Samarco, Vale & BHP Biliton executives for the deaths and other crimes related to the dam burst in Mariana, worst socioenvironmental disaster in the country

"Federal Court Suspends Criminal Case Targeting Samarco Company and Execs", 8 August 2017

The criminal lawsuit that emerged from the biggest environmental tragedy in Brazil's history following a rupture of the Fundão dam in Mariana (state of Minas Gerais), was suspended by a Federal Court following a motion put forward by Samarco executives' attorneys, who are filing for a mistrial. The defense attorneys of Ricardo Vescovi, the Samarco CEO at the time of the disaster, and former Samarco vice-president Kleber Terra, claim that illicit evidence was used to build the case against their clients. Both executives are accused of homicide. ..The lawsuit, which began in November of 2016, was adjourned a month ago, though civil suits concerning environmental reparations and settlements are proceeding normally...Samarco, its chief executives, Vale, the Anglo-Australian company BHP Billiton along with 21 other people, have been charged with homicide for the deaths of 19 people who perished in the tragedy which took place on November 5, 2015. Vale, BHP Billiton and Samarco were also charged with pollution and environmental crimes against fauna and flora and the urban order. VogBR, the company that was responsible for inspecting the dam, along with one of their engineers, is being charged of forging environmental reports.