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SAO PAULO, Jan 20 (Reuters) - Brazilian mining company Samarco Mineração S.A. said on Wednesday CEO Ricardo Vescovi and Director of Operations Kleber Terra had temporarily stepped aside to focus on preparing their defense in the wake of November's mine disaster.
Federal police accused the executives of the company co-owned by BHP Billiton and Vale SA of crimes relating to a dam burst that killed 17 people, though they have not been formally charged by prosecutors.
Samarco said in an e-mailed statement that Commercial Director Roberto Carvalho would serve as interim CEO while Maury Souza would step in as director of operations, as approved by the company's board in a Wednesday meeting. (Reporting by Caroline Stauffer; Editing by Sandra Maler)