High court to decide on venue for Brumadinho dam collapse case

brumadinho case
Rescue teams search for bodies next to the collapsed Brumadinho dam. Photo: CBMG

The Superior Court of Justice, Brazil’s second-highest judicial body, admitted an appeal by state prosecutors in Minas Gerais against the federalization of the criminal case against the persons and companies responsible for the 2019 Brumadinho dam collapse.

The decision means the Supreme Court will decide whether the case will be tried before state or federal courts.

State prosecutors claim the case should remain in state courts as there were no crimes committed against federal interests or assets. They hold that the 270 deaths caused by the toxic sludge spill should be considered homicide – which falls under local jurisdiction. Moreover, taking the case to federal courts would bring the matter back to square one, meaning much of the pre-trial work would need to be redone.

In recent years, major mining companies operating in Brazil have made international headlines due to the sheer amount of damage they have caused to the environment and to thousands of people. But the wheels of Brazilian justice turn slowly. As we discussed in our podcast, victims of these catastrophes are now seeking justice in multiple class-action lawsuits in European courts, pushing for harsher and quicker penalties against reckless mining firms.