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We're fall guys, say BP deaths charge pair

Two BP employees charged over the deaths of 11 rig workers claim the US Justice Department is trying to make them scapegoats for the Deepwater Horizon disaster.

The claims came after BP resolved a sweeping criminal probe of its role in the massive 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico by paying out $4.5bn.

Lawyers for the highest-ranking BP employees aboard the Deepwater Horizon during the deadly explosion vowed to fight manslaughter charges against their clients.

Robert Kaluza and Donald Vidrine are accused of disregarding abnormal high-pressure readings that should have been glaring indications of trouble just before the blow-out.

Vidrine's lawyer, Bob Habans, said in a statement that prosecutors showed "exceedingly poor judgment" in charging his 65-year-old client.

"It is almost inconceivable that any fair-minded person would blame this hard-working and diligent man for one of the most catastrophic events in the history of the oil business," Mr Habans said in a statement.

Kaluza's lawyers, Shaun Clarke and David Gerger, said their 62-year-old client was a dedicated rig worker who "mourns his fallen co-workers every day".

Another indictment charges former BP executive David Rainey with obstruction of Congress and making false statements.