Brumadinho: the names of 19 indicted by the PF in 2021 remain confidential

More than a year after the completion of the Federal Police (PF) investigation that found responsibility for the tragedy in Brumadinho (MG), the final report remains confidential. Investigations were closed in November 2021 when the indictment of 19 people was announced. The names are kept secret to this day.

According to the PF at the time, the final report was forwarded to the Federal Public Prosecutor’s Office (MPF), which is responsible for analyzing its content and deciding whether to file a complaint against the 19 defendants.

The MPF, however, avoids commenting on the results of this inquiry, claiming secrecy. At the same time, it does not explain why the PF investigation, concluded more than a year ago, did not result in any criminal proceedings.

Until last month, 16 people were defendants in the Minas Gerais court, 11 of which were linked to the mining company Vale and five to the German company Tüv Süd, which signed the stability report for the dam that collapsed. The lawsuit had been filed by the Public Ministry of Minas Gerais (MPMG) in February 2020 based on investigations by the Civil Police.

Brumadinho, Dam, Minas Gerais

Dam rupture in Brumadinho is considered one of the biggest environmental tragedies in the country – Reuters/Adriano Machado/Rights Reserved


Its processing, however, was affected by a discussion about competence, motivated by a habeas corpus presented by the defense of one of the defendants, the former president of the mining company Fábio Schvartsman.

The center of the issue revolved around the suspected occurrence of federal crimes such as non-compliance with the National Policy on Dam Safety (PNSB) and possible damage to archaeological sites, which are Union property.

Last month, the Federal Supreme Court (STF) determined that the case be referred to the Federal Court. As it is up to the MPF to act at the federal level, the decision automatically removed the MPMG from the process. Two days ago, however, the MPF took the decision to resubmit the MPMG’s complaint, which was accepted yesterday (24) by Judge Raquel Vasconcelos Alves de Lima, of the 2nd Federal Criminal Court.

In this way, the 16 defendants who had ceased to be defendants before state courts now assume the status of defendants at federal courts. They will answer for various environmental crimes and qualified intentional homicide. Vale and Tüv Süd were also denounced and, if convicted, could be penalized with various sanctions.

Debris is seen after the collapse of the iron ore tailings dam owned by the mining company Vale, in Brumadinho (MG).

Debris seen after the collapse of the Vale tailings dam. – Adriano Machado/Reuters/Rights reserved

Considered one of the biggest environmental and labor tragedies in Brazil, the rupture of the dam in Brumadinho is four years old today (25). In the episode, 270 people died, most of them employees working in Vale structures. The bodies of three victims are still missing and are sought by the Fire Department.

The complaint drawn up by the MPMG and now ratified by the MPF points out that a collusion between Vale and Tüv Süd resulted in the issuance of false declarations of condition of stability that aimed to hide the real situation of the dam and allow the mining company’s activities to be taken forward.

When the PF concluded its investigation, almost two years after the beginning of the process in the state court, the judge in charge of the case until then, Renata Nascimento Borges, requested the final report. In a dispatch, she even informed the parties – MPMG and the defendants’ lawyers – that the document could be consulted in a monitored manner.

If it considered that there were new facts, it would be up to the MPMG to file a petition expanding or modifying the complaint. That didn’t happen.

With the federalization of the case, the MPF could present a different complaint and take into account the conclusions of the PF investigation. However, it chose to ratify the MPMG’s complaint. But a note released by the institution indicates the possibility of future changes.

“In the petition, the MPF highlighted that it reserves the right to add to the complaint, at any time, to, if necessary, add or replace the accused or criminal facts”, records the text.


Brumadinho dam rupture, Israelis

Israeli firefighters specializing in rubble rescue collaborated on the work – Israel Defense Forces

Joceli Andrioli, a member of the national coordination of the Movement of People Affected by Dams (MAB), makes a positive assessment of the actions of the police and MPs in the criminal sphere, but also hopes that the 19 indicted by the PF will be denounced.

“We do not know who these people are. Secrecy must have legal reasons. Now it has been decided that the trial will take place at the federal level and the MPF has fully presented the complaints that the MPMG had already made. But it has also preserved the right to present itself new denunciations. So we imagine that the PF investigation will now be added to the federal process, so that all those involved are punished”, he says.

For Andrioli, what worries him the most is the delay in the judgment of the case.

“The problem is the delay and the influence of people linked to Vale in the Judiciary. We have never seen a defendant ask to be tried for more crimes before – which is what was done in the habeas corpus request that motivated this competence debate. that the case goes unpunished”, he adds.

In recent days, the Brazil Agency questioned the PF and the MPF about the reason for keeping the final investigation report secret, after more than a year. The PF did not respond. The MPF responded that “who would have to lift this secrecy is the Federal Justice, which has not done so until now”.

Also questioned about why it did not present any complaint based on the PF investigations, the MPF replied that “we are prevented from giving any information about this investigation, because it is still covered by secrecy”.

In view of the answers, the Brazil Agency also sought the Federal Justice, which until now has not manifested itself on the matter.

With secrecy maintained, it is not possible to say whether the 16 names that currently appear as defendants in the criminal process coincide in part with the 19 listed in the final report of the PF investigation.

third company

An engineering report produced during the investigation suggests that the work of a third company may have been involved in the tragedy. Signed by experts from the PF, the report pointed out that a drilling carried out by the Dutch multinational Fugro would have acted as the trigger for the rupture of the dam, which was already in critical condition.

The notes coincide with the conclusions of engineers from the Polytechnic University of Catalonia who carried out computer modeling and simulation work at the request of the MPF. The analyzes showed that the bottom of hole B1-SM-13 had the right conditions to generate the episode due to water overpressure.

Fugro was contracted by Vale, with the intermediation of Tüv Süd, to carry out the drilling in order to collect soil samples and install monitoring instruments. It agreed to carry out the work after the refusal of another company, which disagreed with the drilling technique proposed by Vale and Tüv Süd.

The Federal Police, however, does not say whether the final report of its investigation points to any responsibility for Fugro. Sought, the Dutch multinational did not return.

Last month, the Pointer program, from the Dutch public broadcaster KRO-NCVR, aired a 15-minute report on the suspicion that the drilling carried out by Fugro is related to the tragedy. The repercussion of the case in the country where the company is headquartered immediately caused a 20% devaluation of its shares listed on the Dutch stock exchange.

In response, Fugro released a note on its website the following day saying that the report “presents a one-sided view” and that it cannot comment on the case as investigations are ongoing, noting that four employees who participated in the drilling died in the episode.

Translated to english by RJ983

From Brazil, by EBC News

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