Brazil’s Justice accepted on Friday the complaint of qualified homicide filed by the Prosecutor’s Office against 16 executives of the mining giant Vale and the German firm TÜV SÜD for the rupture of a mineral waste dam, which left at least 270 dead in January 2019 .
The Court of Justice of Minas Gerais, in southeastern Brazil, reported that the 16 defendants, including the former director of Vale, Fábio Schvartasman, will respond for crimes of qualified homicide against employees and, in addition, crimes against wildlife and Flora and environmental pollution.
In addition to the executives, Vale and TÜV SÜD were directly reported by the Prosecutor for environmental crimes.
Judge Guilherme Pinho Ribeiro accepted the complaint when he understood that it is “well founded”, with the “exposition of all the criminal acts imputed, as well as all its circumstances.”
However, the judge denied the request for pretrial detention against Chris-Peter Meier, general manager of TÜV SÜD, considering that there were no “elements” to justify the request made by the Public Ministry of Minas Gerais.
The complaint was presented to Justice last January, a few days before the anniversary of a year of the tragedy caused by the rupture of one of the dams in which Vale stored waste from the Córrego do Feijao mine, located in Brumadinho, a small municipality of Minas Gerais (southeast).
The dam of the largest iron producer and exporter in the world collapsed on January 25, 2019 and an avalanche of minerals and mud has left 259 dead already identified and 11 missing, mostly employees of the mining company itself.
According to the Justice, the complaint “argues that the crimes of homicide were practiced by means of an appeal that prevented or hindered the defense of the victims”, since the breakup of the dam occurred “abruptly and violently.”
“Notorious that the verified facts culminated in the death of 270 people. In this scenario, the families, friends and neighbors of the victims, as well as the local community as a whole, face constant and painful mourning,” said the judge in his decision .
Among the now inmates is Fábio Schvartasman, who was in charge of Vale when the tragedy occurred, and another ten employees of the mining giant, in addition to five TÜV SÜD workers, including directors, geologists, engineers, consultants and managers.
In a note, Vale said that “he reiterates his unrestricted support to those affected by the breakdown of the dam in Brumadinho” and reported that he will defend himself in the process through lawyer David Rechulski.
“The company will not rule on legal issues until it is cited and formalizes its technical defense,” he added.
For its part, TÜV SÜD, a German company based in Munich and responsible for issuing safety certifications of industrial facilities in several countries of the world, reiterated its “commitment to see the facts about the rupture of the dam cleared”.
“We continue to offer our cooperation to authorities and institutions in Brazil and in Germany in the context of ongoing investigations,” the firm completed.