Former executives of Soma mine released from jail following Court of Cassation's ruling

Former executives of the Soma mine have been all released from jail, after the three newly appointed judges of Turkey's Court of Cassation, who have a bureaucratic background, have overturned the court's previous decision on the case. “This is the most symbolic answer on the question of how the judiciary has been favoring and protecting employers,” Independent Mine Workers Union (Bağımsız Maden-İş) Organization said in response to the releases.

Some 301 miners lost their lives a mine disaster in the western Turkish town of Soma in 2014.

Duvar English

All suspects on trial for the 2014 Soma mining disaster case have been released from jail, after the Court of Cassation overturned its own decision of October 2020 with regards to the case.

Soma mine's general manager, Ramazan Doğru, the mine’s operations director, Akın Çelik and his deputy, İsmail Adalı, were the only ones who had remained in custody in the case.

But following the Court of Cassation's new ruling in January, the three suspects were also released on Feb. 5, according to the newly surfaced information.

Can Gürkan, the former CEO of the Soma mine, was already released in 2019.

The four former executives of the mine will be retried at the Akhisar Heavy Penal Court. The first hearing of the new case will be held on April 13, Independent Turkish reported on Feb. 9.

In January, the Court of Cassation, which hears appeals for criminal cases, ruled that the four suspects in question will no longer stand trial on charges of “killing with eventual intent,” but rather “conscious negligence,” which is a less severe charge.

Due to the Court of Cassation's new decision, Gürkan can be at most sentenced to 22 years in prison, only to serve half of this jail term as a result of last year's amnesty law. He will also be eligible for parole for a duration of three years.

Independent Mine Workers Union (Bağımsız Maden-İş) Organization slammed the release of the last suspects in the case, writing on its Twitter account: “This is the most symbolic answer on the question of how the judiciary has been favoring and protecting employers. Are you happy members of the Court of Cassation?”

The Court of Cassation's move came following the appointment of three former bureaucrats to the top appeals court's 12th Chamber.

Former Justice Minister Kenan İpek, former Judges and Prosecutors Board (HSK) General Secretary Filiz Aydoğdu and former chief of the General Directorate of Prisons Mustafa Yapıcı ruled to overturn the chamber's previous decision, despite the objection of two other members.

The Soma mining disaster occurred on May 13, 2014 when one of the mine pits was engulfed in flames and carbon monoxide gas, trapping a team of some 800 miners working inside. The deadliest tragedy in Turkish mining history led to the death of 301 miners.