Former mining boss found guilty of safety violations

Don Blankenship Image copyright Getty Images

Ex-mining executive, Don Blankenship, could face up to a year in jail for failing to meet safety standards.

A US jury convicted Blankenship of conspiring to wilfully violate mine safety standards at a Massey Energy coal mine that exploded in 2010.

The explosion was the worst mining disaster in recent US history.

According to the prosecutor, this is the first time that a chief executive of a major company has been convicted of a workplace safety crime.

The 2010 explosion occurred at the Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia, killing 29 people.

The former superintendent of the mine was given 21 months in prison for falsifying records, disabling a methane gas monitor and tipping off workers ahead of inspections.

Blankenship was acquitted of two more severe charges - conspiracy and securities fraud.

The jury in the case deliberated for over two weeks, appearing to be deadlocked on several occasions.

Blankenship, 65, could face a $250,000 (£165,000) fine or a year in prison when he is sentenced on the 23 March.

Bill Taylor, a lawyer for Blankenship, said he was "disappointed in the decision", but did not think his client would serve jail time.

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