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Public Prosecutor's Office Accuses 21 People of Deaths Following Environmental Tragedy in Mariana

10/21/2016 - 11h27

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ADRIANO BOAVENTURA
COLLABORATION FOR FOLHA, IN BELO HORIZONTE
JOSÉ MARQUES
FROM SÃO PAULO

Nearly one year after the environmental tragedy in Mariana (MG), the Brazilian Public Prosecutor's Office accused 21 people who worked for mining company Samarco at the time and its controllers, Vale and BHP Billiton, of homicide with general intent (when the perpetrator is aware of the risk of killing) for the break of the Fundão dam, which killed 19 people in November 2015.

The case has been considered the biggest environmental disaster in the history of Brazil.

Some 35 billion liters of ore waste poured out and destroyed entire settlements and polluted 650 kilometers of the Doce river and its tributaries, reaching even the coast of the state of Espírito Santo.

If the courts accept the full accusation presented on Thursday, October 20, the accused might be judged by a petit jury. Prosecutors say it would be the first case of an environmental crime to be judged like that in the country.

Those accused of homicide include Ricardo Vescovi, the former president of Samarco, Kleber Terra, the mining company's No. 2, and three managers, as well as members of the administrative council (which include a British man, a Frenchman, a South African, an Australian and two Americans).

Tadeu Jungle
In Mariana (MG), some 35 billion liters of ore waste poured out and destroyed entire settlements
In Mariana (MG), some 35 billion liters of ore waste poured out and destroyed entire settlements

Other crimes

The 21 people accused of homicide were also accused as they are suspected of committing other crimes -flooding, collapse, severe injuries and environmental crimes.

The three companies that were responsible for the dam (Samarco, Vale and BHP Billiton) were accused of crimes against the fauna, flora, the urban system and pollution. An engineer of consulting company VogBR and the company itself also were accused of presenting a false report.

The prosecutors of the task force say that, during the investigations, they identified the Samarco shareholders who knew of the problems with the dam.

Samarco, Vale and BHP said that they refute and disavow the accusation.

Translated by THOMAS MUELLO

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