Ministers warn of heavy punishments to quake opportunists

Ministers warn of heavy punishments to quake opportunists

Ministers warn of heavy punishments to quake opportunists

Justice and interior ministers vowed on Feb. 26 to punish opportunists taking advantage of the quake situation, including those asking exorbitant prices for necessities of earthquake victims, landlords demanding overpriced rents, and those committing a burglary.

“We will use all the opportunities that the state of emergency gives us to the fullest,” Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said at a joint press conference with Justice Minister Bekir Bozdağ at the Security and Emergency Situations Coordination Center (GAMER) in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır.

The government has tripled the number of security forces in the quake zone, Soylu said.

Pointing out that the exorbitant rent increases are as painful as the earthquake in the region, Soylu said, “This upsets us. As the state, we are doing what is necessary.” The minister urged citizens to reach public institutions on these issues.

Bozdağ said the judicial investigations regarding crimes in earthquake zones continue uninterruptedly, and so far, they saw 351 theft cases, five qualified fraud cases and four cases of looting.

“I would like to express that most of the information that was disclosed to the public about looting was found to be unfounded,” Bozdağ said.

Judicial investigations have been initiated by the prosecutors regarding the buildings destroyed due to the earthquake, which are subject to criminal investigation, Bozdağ said.

In this context, as a basis for criminal investigation due to judicial investigations, the detection of evidence in the buildings subject to forensic investigations has been completed to a great extent, he noted.

Currently, evidence detection procedures in the provinces other than Kahramanmaraş, Adıyaman, Hatay and Malatya have been completed within the scope of the criminal investigation, Bozdağ said, adding that evidence was collected by making expert examination in 7,598 buildings.

The justice minister also stressed that the citizens should be sure that the wreckage of the buildings subject to the criminal investigation was not removed without detecting the evidence.

In the earthquake investigations regarding collapsed buildings, legal action has been taken against 612 suspects to date, according to the minister. Arrest warrants were issued for 184 of them, Bozdağ added.

“When we look at the titles of these, we see that 79 of them are contractors, 74 are building supervisors, 13 are building owners, and 18 are those who made changes in the building,” he stated.

Reminding that they completed the debris removal works in the destroyed buildings in Diyarbakır, Bozdağ said, “Identification and treatment studies for those rescued from the wreckage and those who passed away have been completed. Currently, there is no brother left in Diyarbakır who has passed away but has not been identified.”