Probo Koala poison scandal comes to court

Oil trader Trafigura, Amsterdam city council and waste disposal firm APS are to appear in court for their role in the Probo Koala ‘poison ship’ affair, court officials confirmed to news agency ANP on Tuesday.

At least 16 people in Ivory Coast died after five tonnes of toxic waste from the Probo Koala was dumped in the port city of Abdijan in August 2006. Tens of thousands of people became sick.
The ship was originally due to be decontaminated in Amsterdam but the clean-up operation was considered too expensive by the ship’s captain and the waste pumped back into its hold.
The fact that the Dutch authorities were aware that the ship was leaving with its toxic cargo could be in breach of international treaties, the Financieele Dadblad reports.
The preliminary hearing will take place on June 26 and 27. The environment ministry, whose role in the affair was also criticised, has not been summoned, the paper says.
Although the summons indicates the public prosecution office has sufficient evidence of criminal activity it is unclear what charges the suspects will face, according to the FD.
At the hearing the court will set out the procedure for what is expected to be an extensive legal case, the paper says.
The lawyer for APS, Alexander de Swart, tells the paper that the summons is ‘premature’ as the criminal dossier into the case is not complete. De Swart wants time to conduct his own investigation and says he will appeal against the summons.
The Probo Koala was chartered by the Amstelveen-based oil trader Trafigura which paid Ivory Coast €152m in compensation but denied liability.

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