(Adds statement of former Vale CEO lawyers)
RIO DE JANEIRO, Feb 14 (Reuters) - A Brazilian state judge has accepted charges against Vale SA former Chief Executive Fabio Schvartsman and 15 others related to a fatal disaster at the iron ore miner’s Brumadinho tailings dam a year ago, according to a statement on Friday.
The move by a judge in Brazil’s mining heartland of Minas Gerais follows charges filed by state prosecutors on Jan. 21 accusing the former CEO and other 15 people of homicide.
The Brumadinho dam burst in January 2019, unleashing an avalanche of muddy mining waste which killed an estimated 270 people, burying many of them alive.
The prosecutors allege Vale, Brazil’s largest mining company, and German inspection firm TÜV SÜD systematically and intentionally hid information about safety issues at its tailings dams for years.
Lawyers representing Schvartsman said in a statement they expect to prove his innocence soon. (Reporting by Marta Nogueira in Rio de Janeiro Editing by Leslie Adler, Christian Plumb and Sonya Hepinstall)
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.