Probe into deaths of 15 in northern Turkey bridge collapse closed

Probe into deaths of 15 in northern Turkey bridge collapse closed

ZONGULDAK – Doğan News Agency
Probe into deaths of 15 in northern Turkey bridge collapse closed

DHA Photo

A prosecution office has closed the case of a bridge collapse in Turkey’s northern province of Zonguldak in 2012 which killed 15 people, as no permission was given for an investigation into the responsible state institutions which were found guilty in an expert report. 

Some 48 meters of the 252 meter-long Çaycuma Bridge over the Filyos Creek in Zonguldak collapsed on April 6, 2012. One minibus carrying 11 people, one automobile and four pedestrians crossing the 61-year-old bridge were swept away in the water below. Two passengers in the automobile were rescued the same day, while 15 people died. 

The Çaycuma Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office has concluded the investigation three years after the accident by ruling there was no need to take any action against the Çaycuma Municipality, the Highways’ 15th Regional Directorship or Turkey’s General Directorate of State Hydraulic Works’ (DSİ) 232nd Branch Office, which were responsible for the bridge and towards which the investigation was launched, as permission for the investigations into the institutions had not been granted. 

The prosecutor’s office said the Kastamonu Governorate did not give permission for an investigation of the Highways Directorship, the Zonguldak Governorate did not grant permission for an investigation into the DSİ office and the Interior Ministry did not allow for a probe of the Çaycuma Municipality. 

The decision said investigation permission towards the three institutions was needed according to law but as the permission had not been given and the objections to that decision were also rejected, all the legal remedies had been consumed. 

“Therefore, it has been decided that there is no need to take action against the people for which preliminary examinations were conducted as there was no legal way to pursue investigation,” read the prosecution office’s decision. 

The decision also mentioned the expert report prepared by Istanbul Technical University (ITU), which had stated the reason the bridge collapsed was the toppling over of the flood barrier due to high-flow, which was built by stones and rocks to lower the water’s energy and thus avoid scouring and erosion of the piers of the bridge, before the bridge collapsed. 

The mayor at the time of the incident, Mithat Gülşen, who was elected from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), lost his father, 79-year-old Kemal Gülşen, and his nephew, 21-year-old Sezgin Gülşen, in the accident. 

The bodies of four of the 15 people who died in the accident have still not been found. 

Malik Uçar, the attorney for three of the victims, said the legal system, like in other current cases, was not operated in this case and there was an attitude to cover up the incident. 

“Even though all the institutions have blamed each other, none of the institutions were found guilty. This is an extremely interesting case. The state has hindered for a probe to be conducted,” said Uçar.

Uçar added they had sued for damages and while the Çaycuma Municipality was not found guilty in the criminal proceedings, it was deemed to pay compensation within the administrative court’s ruling. 

“They are both impeccable and will also pay compensation,” said Uçar, drawing attention to the odd situation in the case.