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Greenpeace Seeks Criminal Charges in Ivory Coast Toxic Dumping

The environmental group Greenpeace says it wants Dutch prosecutors to consider criminal charges against executives from international oil trading company Trafigura in connection with toxic waste dumped in Ivory Coast in 2006. Wednesday, Trafigura announced it would offer compensation to thousands of victims of the toxic dumping, which is blamed for the deaths of at least 15 people.

Greenpeace says it has new evidence, including internal e-mails and documents, suggesting Trafigura executives knew sludge dumped in Ivory Coast in 2006 was dangerous.

The sludge had been on a ship called Probo Koala, which had been chartered by Trafigura. An Ivorian company contracted by Trafigura dumped the waste illegally near Abidjan.

Toxic-waste campaigner for Greenpeace Netherlands, Marietta Harjono, says the environmental group wants Dutch prosecutors to consider criminal charges against Trafigura executives.

"The new information we have collected together with a group of people shows that the director of Trafigura as well as several employees knew for a long time that the waste they would be producing on the Probo Koala would be very toxic," she said. "They also knew that this waste was forbidden to be exported from Europe to an African country. They also knew there were only a few facilities that could handle the waste in a proper way. But even with all this knowledge, they decided to circumvent the law and to go ahead and dump the toxic waste in a poor country."

The waste was blamed for the deaths of at least 15 people, while tens of thousands of others were apparently sickened by it.

Trafigura has denied doing anything wrong, a stance it has maintained following these latest allegations. But it said Wednesday it would offer compensation to more than 30,000 victims of the Abidjan dumping.

Harjono says if the Dutch justice system accepts to hear the case, Greenpeace hopes it will set a precedent to ensure other companies are prosecuted for dumping hazardous waste.