June start for Dutch trial over ICoast waste dump

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A company that chartered a ship that dumped waste alleged to have killed 17 people in the Ivory Coast will stand trial from June 1 along with the boat's captain, a court said Wednesday.

The Probo Koala dumped caustic soda and petroleum residues on city waste tips in Abidjan in August 2006 after having been prevented from offloading in Amsterdam.

The Swiss-based multinational oil trading firm Trafigura, which chartered the ship, and its captain are to be tried in Amsterdam for breaking Dutch waste export laws among other charges, according to prosecutors.

Also on trial will be the city of Amsterdam and waste treatment company Amsterdam Port Services, they said.

"The trial will start on June 1," Amsterdam district court spokeswoman Annemieke Jeurings told AFP. It is expected to last five weeks.

The waste caused 17 deaths and thousands of poisoning cases, according to Ivory Coast lawyers.

A United Nations report published last September found "strong" evidence linking at least 15 deaths and several hospitalisations to pollution from the ship.

Trafigura has already paid damages to victims of the poisoning in an out-of-court deal with the government of the Ivory Coast that exempts it from legal proceedings in that country.

The company has, nevertheless, always denied any link between the waste and any deaths or serious illnesses in the Ivory Coast.

© 2010 AFP

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