Vietnam quarry owner gets two years in jail for 18-death rockslide

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A court in the central province of Nghe An on Tuesday sentenced a quarry owner to two years in jail for negligence which contributed to a rockslide that killed 18 people in April 2011.

The accident that also left seven others injured took place eight months after Phan Cong Chin was issued a license to begin mining operations at the Len Co quarry in Yen Thanh District.

Chin, 49, the director of Chin Men Company in charge of the mining, was the trial's lone defendant, charged with "violations in natural resources excavation."

According to the indictment, Chin did not follow the mine design approved in the license. It said his company did not quarry rocks downwards as regulated, but mined at the foot of the mountain, which triggered the rockslide on April 1, 2011.

Mining had also been conducted outside the approved area.

Family members of the victims who appeared in court asked for Chin's punishment to be reduced, saying that he had created jobs for around 200 local people, and that natural conditions out of his control should also be blamed for the accident.

The sentence had already been reduced from the prosecutors' suggestion of between 30 to 36 months.

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Investigations earlier also suggested that Nguyen Cong Hai, deputy head of industry and trade of the district, and Hoang Thanh Long, deputy head of the district's Natural Resources and Environment Department, might be charged with "irresponsibility causing serious consequences."

But prosecutors said their roles were not significant enough to render them liable. 

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