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BP vows to 'vigorously defend' itself at US oil spill trial

Published on Feb 20, 2013 5:53 AM
A flare burns from a drill ship recovering oil from the ruptured British Petroleum (BP) oil well over the site in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Louisiana. BP insisted on Feb 19, 2013 that it would fight "vigorously" against accusations of gross negligence and "excessive" compensation claims during the civil trial concerning the 2010 oil spill, which starts in the US on Feb 25, 2013 and could result in the oil giant paying out billions of dollars. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP

CHICAGO (AFP) - British energy giant BP vowed Tuesday to "vigorously defend" itself in court next week against US government claims for "excessive" fines in the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill disaster.

Prosecutors shot back with a warning that they will be fighting for the stiffest penalties possible at a blockbuster trial which opens Monday with tens of billions of dollars at stake.

"The United States is fully prepared for trial," Wyn Hornbuckle, a spokesman for the US Department of Justice, told AFP.

"We intend to prove that BP was grossly negligent and engaged in willful misconduct in causing the oil spill." The mammoth trial in a New Orleans, Louisiana federal courthouse consolidates scores of remaining lawsuits stemming from the worst environmental disaster to strike the United States.

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