Settlement reached over Spanish toddler's fatal fall into well

MADRID (Reuters) - The parents of a Spanish toddler who fell into an illegally-excavated well a year ago, setting off a frantic rescue effort that grabbed international attention, have reached a legal settlement with the landowner, prosecutors said on Monday.

The trial over the death of the two-year-old boy Julen in Totalan in southern Spain had been set to begin on Tuesday, a year after the nearly two-week, round-the-clock operation to rescue him. Now the judge is simply expected to ratify the out-of-court deal.

Malaga prosecutor Jacobo Fernandez had been seeking a three-year prison sentence for David Serrano, the owner of the estate, citing a failure to cover up the borehole or warn of its existence.

Serrano has accepted responsibility for "homicide due to serious negligence", an official with the prosecutor's office told Reuters. As part of the deal, Serrano will be sentenced to a year in prison and pay a total of 190,000 euros ($210,577) in compensation to Julen's parents over several years, she added.

Spain rarely requires first-time offenders to serve a sentence in prison if it is for less than two years' duration.

Lawyers for the family and Serrano were not immediately available for comment.

The boy and his family had been walking through a private estate in Totalan when he tumbled into a narrow borehole that was later revealed to be more than 100 meters (328 feet) deep.

Miners, engineers and firefighters from Spain and other countries came together to try and rescue Julen. After drilling a parallel shaft day and night, rescuers found his lifeless body 13 days after he tumbled down the well.



(Reporting by Inti Landauro and Elena Rodriguez, writing by Ashifa Kassam, editing by Andrei Khalip/Mark Heinrich)