Eko Forum Zenica filed criminal charges against ArcelorMittal and state officials for catastrophic pollution
BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA / ZENICA - 15 September 2015
After years of using various methods to enforce citizens’ rights for clean environment, Eko-Forum Zenica decided to take another step. Bosnia based NGO filed criminal charges against ArcelorMitall and its managers and also heads of the state institutions responsible for catastrophic air pollution. Steelworks located in the town on Zenica poisons its 150 thousands population since its re-opening in 2008. Although number of days with exceeded concentration of hazardous sulfur dioxide (SO2) above the hygienic limit rose to alarming 84 last year, authorities failed to step in. Eko-Forum Zenica hence filed charges against former minister of environment, director of Environmental Inspection and managers of the corporation.
Steelwoorks of ArcelorMittal in Zenica are now working without environmental permits required by the law. We participated in permitting processes, but our comments were thrown away and several permits were prepared completely without participation of the public,” says Samir Lemeš, president of Eko Forum Zenica and states: “We spent eight months collecting evidence. Since authorities neglected their duties in environment protection, we strongly believe that they should be deemed responsible.”
Eko Forum Zenica filed criminal charges against ArcellorMittal and its executive managers for pollution of the environment. Former Minister of Environment and Tourism and director of the Federal Administration for Inspection Affairs will face criminal charges for negligent performance of duties.
“We will continue making pressure on the relevant authorities to finally improve the enforcement of the law in the field of environmental protection in order to enable Zenica to have an industry that produces, employs and pays taxes, but complies with the regulations and laws, invests in environmental protection and timely implements measures set in environmental permits,” adds Samir Lemeš.
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Details of the criminal charges
Civic association Eko Forum Zenica, as an organization dedicated to the protection of the environment, pursuant to Articles 229 and 230 of the Criminal Procedure Code of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina filed criminal charges:
- Against Company ArcelorMittal Zenica (AMZ), Palavathu Krishnan Nair Biju, and Mukund Vyankatesh Kulkarni, as employees and the persons responsible, because there is reasonable doubt that, for the account and in favor of AMZ with the failure of managerial and supervisory authorities which were obliged to supervise the legality in terms of Article 128 of the Criminal Code FBiH, acted contrary to the provisions of the Criminal Code of FBiH and the Law on Environmental Protection of the Federation.
Through series of actions, which are in the criminal report described in detail and explained, the AMZ, named executive managers performed the criminal offense of pollution of the environment under Article 303, paragraph 1 and 2 of the CC of FBiH in conjunction with Article 128 of the Criminal Code of FBiH and Articles 13, 14, 15 and 109 of the Law on Environmental Protection of FBiH and crime Pollution from Article 303, paragraph 1 and 2 of the CC of FBiH in conjunction with Article 128th CC FBiH and Article 68 of the Law on Environmental Protection. We suggest the Cantonal Prosecutor's Office of Zenica-Doboj Canton to conduct a detailed investigation into this criminal charges and to raise and represent the indictment against them.
- Against Branka Djuric, former minister of the Federal Ministry of Environment and Tourism; and Ibrahim Tirak, director of the Federal Administration for Inspection Affairs, as officials in the Federation, because there is reasonable doubt that in the period from April 2011 to April 2015, and from 2009 to the present, acted contrary to the provisions of the Criminal Code FBiH and the Law on Environmental Protection of the Federation.
By failing to act as control over the state of the environment, air pollution, water and soil in the town of Zenica and the surrounding areas, thus acting against the general duties of achieving environmental quality standards and effective protection of the environment and failing to act as control over the completion of the requirements of environmental permits, they have committed a criminal offense negligent performance of duty under Article 387, paragraph 2 in conjunction with paragraph 1 of the Criminal Code of FBiH in conjunction with Articles 40, 66 and 67 of the Law on Environmental Protection of FBiH, or in conjunction with Articles 20 and 21 of FBiH Law on Inspections and Articles 90 and 92 of the Law on Environmental Protection of the Federation. We expect the Sarajevo Cantonal Prosecutor's Office to conduct a detailed investigation into this criminal report and to raise and represent the indictment against these persons.