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Judge to hear case against executive in in dam bursts

Associated Press Associated Press 18/11/2016
FILE - In this Nov. 8, 2015 file photo, rescue workers search for victims in Bento Rodrigues, Brazil, two days after a tsunami of mud, caused by a dam break, engulfed the town in the state of Minas Gerais. A federal judge agreed on Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016, to hear a criminal case filed against four companies and 22 people allegedly involved in last year's mine dam burst that killed 19 people and polluted hundreds of miles of rivers and streams. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana) © The Associated Press FILE - In this Nov. 8, 2015 file photo, rescue workers search for victims in Bento Rodrigues, Brazil, two days after a tsunami of mud, caused by a dam break, engulfed the town in the state of Minas Gerais. A federal judge agreed on Thursday, Nov. 17, 2016, to hear a criminal case filed against four companies and 22 people allegedly involved in last year's mine dam burst that killed 19 people and polluted hundreds of miles of rivers and streams. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

SAO PAULO — A federal judge in the Brazilian state of Minas Gerais has agreed to hear a criminal case filed against four companies and 22 people allegedly involved in last year's mine dam burst that killed 19 people and polluted hundreds of miles of rivers and streams.

Judge Jacques de Queiroz Ferreira agreed to hear the case on Thursday.

The charges were filed last month by Minas Gerais prosecutors. Those charged are mostly Brazilians, but also include American, Australian and British board members and directors at Brazilian mining companies Samarco and Vale, as well as Australia's BHP Billiton.

They're accused of causing what many say is Brazil's worst environmental disaster. All three companies have denied the charges.

Samarco is a joint-venture between Vale and BHP Billiton.

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