Ivorian minister resigns over toxic dumping scandal

Reuters News
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Posted: May 24, 2012 1:34 PM
Ivorian minister resigns over toxic dumping scandal

ABIDJAN (Reuters) - Ivory Coast's minister of African integration - a lead mediator in Mali's political crisis - resigned his post on Tuesday over questions about his role in a toxic waste dumping scandal, his office said in a statement.

Adama Bictogo is suspected to have stolen some 600 million CFA francs ($1.17 million) intended as compensation for victims of toxic waste dumping by trading firm Trafigura in 2006, according to a police report made public in February.

"Following the most recent developments in the case of toxic waste dumped in Abidjan by Trafigura, Minister Adama Bictogo, who played a role in negotiating compensation for the victims, has asked to be heard by the state prosecutor," according to the statement issued by Bictogo's office.

It said he had resigned "to ensure and guarantee a separation between the executive and judiciary powers."

A presidential decree issued earlier in the day said Bictogo, who also was Ivory Coast's representative in regional negotiations to restore democracy in coup-stricken Mali, had been sacked but gave no reason.

Trafigura was found guilty in 2010 of exporting toxic waste dumped in a part of Ivory Coast's economic capital, Abidjan, and agreed to pay some 22.5 billion CFA francs to the area's roughly 30,000 victims.

Ivory Coast police said in February that Bictogo and two other people were suspected of having stolen some of the money, and recommended that the state prosecutor file charges.

At least 17 people reportedly died from the pollution.

($1 = 514.1530 CFA francs)

(Reporting by Ange Aboa; Writing by Richard Valdmanis)