‘Nuptial’ probe of Soma mine raises eyebrows

‘Nuptial’ probe of Soma mine raises eyebrows

Sefer Levent ISTANBUL
‘Nuptial’ probe of Soma mine raises eyebrows

Miners wait outside of Soma mine during search and rescue operations on May 14. AP Photo

The Soma coal mine, where 301 workers lost their lives in the worst industrial disaster in Turkey’s history, has been “independently” inspected by a prosecution expert and a ministry inspector, who are a married couple, daily Hürriyet has reported.

Alpaslan Ertürk inspected the mine after the accident on behalf of the Prosecutor’s Office, while his wife, Aysel Ertürk, did so on behalf of the Labor Ministry. Both were separately commissioned to prepare reports about whether earlier inspections were sufficient and whether the operator of the mine was at faults.

Alpaslan Ertürk, a senior mining engineer like his wife, was one of the first experts to enter the mine after the deadly accident, as part of the team that prepared the preliminary technical report for the prosecution, which is the main evidence for the ongoing investigation.

A legal expert told Hürriyet that the profile of the two inspectors compromised the independence of the investigation. “This is yet another unethical picture that has emerged in a case drawing much public attention. Why is an expert probing a mine, while his wife inspects on behalf of the ministry? Aren’t there any experts left in Turkey?” he said.

Hürriyet had reported May 26 that the Soma coal mine received a “perfect” score in March by an official inspector, who is the brother-in-law of a senior executive of the company.

The Soma mine accident is the deadliest in Turkey’s history, surpassing an explosion that killed 263 miners in Zonguldak in 1992. The exact cause of the disaster is still yet to be determined.

The accident sparked a wave of anger against the operator of the mine, as well as the government.

A local official in Soma from Turkey’s mining union, Maden-İş, resigned on May 26, upon the demand of a group of miners.