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Brazil court suspends criminal lawsuits against former Vale CEO over dam collapse

A view of a collapsed tailings dam owned by Brazilian mining company Vale in Brumadinho

(Reuters) - A Brazilian court on Wednesday suspended multiple criminal lawsuits against Vale's Chief Executive Fabio Schvartsman over the deadly 2019 collapse of a tailings dam at a mine owned by the company.

A Minas Gerais state court said in a statement to press that public prosecutors had not presented enough evidence of criminal conduct by Schvartsman. The court said it had not discussed the former Vale CEO's innocence or culpability.

The court did not respond to a Reuters inquiry on the number of lawsuits dismissed.

Vale said it was not involved in Schvartsman's appeal for the lawsuits' suspension. His defense said in a statement that the decision recognizes the non-existence of any act or omission by him with any causal link with the dam collapse.

A tailings dam at a Vale iron ore mine in the city of Brumadinho, located in Minas Gerais, collapsed in early 2019, killing 270 people, while also damaging homes, forests and rivers.

The court said new cases against Schvartsman over Brumadinho case can be filed by prosecutors.

Criminal lawsuits against another fifteen people were not affected by Wednesday's decision, it added, as it only encompass Schvartsman's case.

(Reporting by Patricia Vilas Boas in Sao Paulo; additional reporting by Marta Nogueira in Rio de Janeiro; writing by Andre Romani; EDiting by Alistair Bell)