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Lawyers Prepare Defense In Xcel Criminal Case

Fri, 06/17/2011 - 8:02am

DENVER (AP) — The criminal trial over the deaths of five workers at a Colorado hydroelectric plant has reached the half-way point.

Federal prosecutors rested their case against Minneapolis-based Xcel Energy and a subsidiary on Thursday, allowing company lawyers to begin presenting their case Friday.

The Denver Post reported that's expected to take a couple of days.

Xcel and Public Service Company of Colorado face five counts of violating federal safety regulations. Five workers from California died as a result of smoke inhalation when a fire trapped them inside a tunnel.

Prosecutors said Xcel knew of workplace safety violations. A defense attorney said a contractor violated the regulations and the deaths were an accident.

If convicted, each company would have to pay fines up to $2.5 million and be subject to strict post-conviction supervision.

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