Soma mine disaster suspects point finger at dead engineer

Soma mine disaster suspects point finger at dead engineer

MANİSA - Anadolu Agency
Soma mine disaster suspects point finger at dead engineer

AA Photo

Suspects in the case of Turkey’s worst ever mine disaster in the Aegean town of Soma, which claimed the lives of 301 miners in May 2014, have pointed the finger at one engineer who died in the accident, as the trial continues under tight security measures due to the furious relatives of victims.

Most of the suspects accused chief engineer Mehmet Efe over the accident, but the deceased’s father, Resul Efe, said his son was being made into a “scapegoat.” 

As the trial continued on April 17, insufficient safety measures at the mine were revealed during the defenses of the suspects.

Speaking during the fourth hearing in Akhisar town of Manisa province, suspect Hilmi Kazık, an occupational safety specialist at the Eynez mine owned by Soma Kömür İşletmeleri A.Ş., said they never conducted any safety exercises at the mine. 

Kazık said that when he arrived at the mine on the day of the accident, he could not enter the mind due to heavy smoke. He said the team of workers had not conducted any exercises for what to do in the event of a fire or an explosion before the accident.

“I have a wife and a child, I demand my acquittal,” said Kazık, as the victims’ relatives in the courthouse shouted: “What about us? What did you want from our husbands?” 

Occupational safety engineer Yalçın Erdoğan, who is also among the suspects being tried without arrest, said that some miners were still entering the mine even after the accident had taken place, as the necessary emergency warning had not been made. At this, two people from among the victims’ families watching the trial shouted and had to be removed from the courthouse. 

Can Gürkan, the chief executive of the Soma Kömür mining company, is one of eight former managers standing trial on murder charges over the accident on May 13, 2014 in Soma in western Turkey, which left 301 miners dead and exposed shocking safety standards in Turkish mines.

Prosecutors in their indictment have said that each of the eight should serve 25-year sentences, multiplied 301 times for every victim, on charges of “killing with probable criminal intent.”

This would result in a total sentence for each suspect of 7,525 years in prison.

Prosecutors say the miners were killed after inhaling gas and toxic smoke from the fire that was caused when an abandoned pile of coal left next to an electrical transformer caught fire.

The eight managers were not brought to court on the first day of the trial on April 13 for security reasons. But the judge agreed to objections from relatives and they appeared for the first time on April 15. Another 37 suspects also on trial face hefty sentences on lesser charges of homicide by negligence.