Hungary court orders retrial in toxic red sludge case

By Krisztina Than

GYOR, Hungary (Reuters) - A Hungarian court ordered a retrial on Monday over the spill of toxic red sludge in 2010 that killed 10 people in one of the country's worst environmental disasters.

Prosecutors had appealed against a 2016 ruling that acquitted 15 people in the case. Monday's verdict by a court in the city of Gyor overturned that ruling and ordered a retrial.

In the 2010 spill, toxic red mud flowing from an alumina reservoir destroyed hundreds of homes in three towns and seeped into rivers including a tributary of the Danube.

It spread 1.9 million cubic metres of soft sludge, the colour of tennis clay, which emitted a pungent acidic smell that could be detected miles away. It took years to clean up.

"The court ... annuls the Veszprem court ruling dated January 28, 2016," judge Csilla Zolyomi told a packed courtroom in Gyor.

She said there had been procedural mistakes and shortcomings in the hearing of witnesses at the Veszprem court with regard to the evaluation of expert opinions and also in the court's justification for its acquittal ruling.

That prompted the Gyor court to order a retrial, which could be carried out by the Veszprem court, she said. "The new procedure will have to be conducted in an expedited manner ... and the evidence procedure has to be repeated," the judge said.

MAL Corp, the aluminium smelting company that owned the faulty alumina reservoir, was subsequently taken over by the government, which declared it responsible for the incident and began to close it down.

In a first instance ruling, a court in the western town of Veszprem said that executives and top employees of MAL had not been criminally negligent, nor had they committed other crimes they were charged with during the 40-month legal procedure.

The prosecutors had asked for that ruling to be annulled, saying the Veszprem court ruling had drawn false conclusions in the case.

(Editing by Dominic Evans)

Must Read

Hamilton looks for luck to change amid 3-way...

Apr 26, 2018

Lewis Hamilton needs his luck to change in Azerbaijan

Belarusian leader lashes out at Russia

Feb 3, 2017

Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko has criticized Russia for cutting oil supplies, ordered...

Dutch lawmaker suspends campaigning due to...

Feb 23, 2017

Anti-Islam Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders on Thursday suspended open campaigning for next month's...

Belgium says Dutch found tainted eggs back in...

Aug 9, 2017

Belgium's agriculture minister says Dutch authorities knew that eggs in the Netherlands were...

Widening egg scandal hits 17 countries in Europe

Aug 11, 2017

A costly scandal over tainted eggs has the EU planning a summit for its ministers and food safety...

Sign up now!

The Healthier Web delivers accurate and up-to-date health information through medical content and insights from experts. Feel the ‘ohm’ here in The Healthier Web.

Contact us: sales[at]thehealthierweb.com