A Hatay High Criminal Court accepted the first-ever lawsuit in the province about the Feb. 6 earthquakes against five suspects detained in relation to the collapse of the 9-storey İlke Apartment Complex, killing 53 residents.
Hatay was one of the provinces most affected by the earthquakes. Thousands of people lost their lives while tens of thousands of houses were damaged or completely destroyed.
An investigation has been underway by the special Earthquake Inspection Bureau under the Hatay Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office on people in charge of the construction of the İlke Apartment Complex that collapsed during the earthquakes. The investigation on the contractor, building inspector, project and performance controllers, and controller was completed.
A Hatay court accepted the indictment that accused the suspects of “causing the death of multiple people due to gross negligence," asking for sentences of up to 22 years and six months.
Another investigation was opened on the district mayor and development director, who have granted development and occupancy permits to the building.
The indictment stated that the 9-storey building constructed in 2011 was located on a first-degree seismic belt.
According to the indictment, suspects blamed each other and argued poor ground conditions were the reason for the collapse. The indictment further noted, “The expert report included in the indictment as well as post-earthquake photo and video evidence of the area revealed that surrounding buildings did not collapse, therefore debunking the suspects’ claim regarding poor ground conditions.”
The expert report also stated that the ground studies and static calculation reports were missing during the building’s construction.
The report found that procedures outlined in the Regulation on Building on Earthquake Zones enacted in 2007 were not adhered to during project planning, construction, and completion stages.
The indictment also included statements from plaintiffs about the 11 bodies that were unrecovered as gas entrapment in the building resulted in a fire following the earthquake. The suspects are considered negligent as they failed to practice due diligence during construction.