Brazil judge suspends case in mine disaster to analyze proof

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SAO PAULO (AP) — A Brazilian federal judge has suspended the criminal case against four companies and several people allegedly involved in the failure of a mine dam while he considers whether evidence was illegally obtained.

In November 2015, a dam in southeastern Brazil broke open, unleashing a tsunami of mine waste that killed 19 people and polluted waterways.

The mining companies Samarco, Vale, VogBR and BHP Billiton and several of their employees, executives and board members are facing various charges, including for manslaughter and environmental crimes. The companies have denied the charges.

The defense is arguing that some evidence used in the indictment was obtained illegally, and the judge decided in July to suspend the proceedings while he analyzes their petition. The court released the decision Monday.

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