Appeals court permits public workers' prosecution for Soma mining disaster

Turkey's Court of Cassation ruled to allow prosecution of public servants who are allegedly liable for the Soma mining disaster of 2014. The public inspectors are accused of misrepresenting work safety conditions at the mining site prior to the devastating accident that claimed 301 lives.

Duvar English

Turkey's Court of Cassation reversed a ruling that prevented the prosecution of public servants who are allegedly liable for the Soma mining disaster of 2014 that claimed 301 lives, Anka News Agency reported on June 23.

Thirteen public servants are blamed for the disastrous work accident on May 13, 2014, where 301 mine workers died, and the criminal complaints filed by the victims' families shortly after the accident had been shut down by the Family, Labor and Social Services Ministry.

The public workers are accused of conducting unlawful inspections at the site of the mine on the grounds that they had misrepresented the work safety conditions on the ground prior to the disastrous accident.

The workers reportedly alerted the employers of the inspection prior to the scheduled date, only observed safer areas of the worksite for the official report, and failed to inspect critical electrical hardware.

The Court of Cassation had ruled against appeals by the victims' families in 2015 and 2016, prompting the petitioners to go to the Constitutional Court.

The Constitutional Court had ruled on March 9, 2020 that the families' rights had been violated by the failure to prosecute, ordering the Court of Cassation to carry on with the case.  

The 12 public servants include the former Work Health and Safety Director General Kasım Özer and work inspectors Ercemal Atasoy, Ayhan Yüksel, Aysel Ertürk, Yaşar Korkmaz, Ertan Gül, Abdurrahman Başkaya, Mehmet Göl, Mukadder Kavcar, Mehmet Tekelioğlu, Gürol Alaca, Emin Gümüş and Ersin Bulut.