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Dutch court turns down Trafigura appeal on toxic waste
by Staff Writers
The Hague (AFP) Dec 23, 2011

An Amsterdam appeals court Friday upheld a million-euro fine against multinational oil trader Trafigura for the illegal export of toxic waste, later dumped in Ivory Coast after a stopover in the Netherlands.

"The Court of Appeal considers (it) proved that Trafigura failed to disclose the hazardous character of the waste to the APS (Amsterdam Port Service)," it said in a statement, adding that "moreover, Trafigura illegally exported the waste to the Ivory Coast."

Prosecutors and Trafigura appealed the original July 2010 sentence. The prosecution on November 17 asked the court to impose a two-million-euro ($2.6 million) fine on Trafigura, and a 150,000 euro fine against the APS after the ship Probo Koala arrived in Amsterdam before being redirected to Abidjan in July 2006.

Environmental group Greenpeace said in a statement Friday it was "pleased international crimes committed against the environment by Trafigura have been punished."

"This ruling is a warning to all companies who see Africa as a dumping ground," said Marietta Harjono, who heads Greenpeace's campaign against toxic waste.

On July 2, 2006, toxic residues on board the Probo Koala were prevented from being offloaded for treatment in Amsterdam's port and redirected to Abidjan, where they were dumped on city waste tips.

Trafigura, which denies any link between the waste and subsequent deaths and has an independent experts' report backing its stance, reached out of court settlements for 33 million euros and 152 million euros in Britain and Ivory Coast that exempted it from legal proceedings.

But a United Nations report published in September 2009 found "strong" evidence blaming the waste for at least 15 deaths and several hospitalisations.

The dumping caused 17 deaths and thousands of cases of poisoning, Ivorian judges said.

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