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Netherlands - Côte D'Ivoire

Trafigura could face two million-euro fine for Côte d'Ivoire toxic waste

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A Swiss based company that chartered a ship that allegedly dumped deadly waste in the Côte D'Ivoire could be fined two million euros. Seventeen people allegedly died after toxic residues on board the Probo Koala were shipped away from the Port of Amsterdam and redirected to Abidjan, where they were dumped on city waste tips.

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The Dutch court is calling on the Swiss-based company, Multinational Trafigura, waste treatment company Amsterdam Port Services (APS) and the Ukrainian captain of the Probo Koala ship to stand trial in Amsterdam for breaking environment and waste
export laws in Dutch territory.

Prosecutor Renske Mackor said the multinational bears "the final responsibility for everything that happened aboard the Probo Koala.” Trafigura "placed its own commercial interests above those of the health and environment, here in theNetherlands as well as in the Ivory Coast," Mackor said.

She called for a year's prison for Naeem Ahmed, the Trafigura employee who coordinated the ship's stopover in Amsterdam, and four months' jail for the ship's captain, Sergiy Chertov.

The prosecutor also sought a six-month sentence, with three months suspended, for APS's former managing director Evert Uittenbosch, as well as fines of 250,000 euros and 150,000 euros for APS and Amsterdam city council respectively.

The company, which denies any link between the waste and casualties, reached an out-of-court damages settlement with the Côte D'Ivoire government in February 2007 for 100 billion CFA francs (152 million euros).

The deal exempted it from legal proceedings in that country.

A court case in Britain was dropped after a 33-million-euro settlement for 31,000 plaintiffs was reached in September last year on the basis of an independent experts' report that found no link between the waste and 17 deaths and thousands of poisoning cases claimed by the Ivory Coast.

But a United Nations report published last September found "strong" evidence blaming the waste for at least 15 deaths and several hospitalisations.

The trial is expected to conclude on 2 July with a verdict to be announced on 23 July.

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