Turkey’s quake trials blocked due to archive lost in hastily demolished municipality building

In Nurdağı district of Gaziantep, which suffered great destruction in the Feb. 6 earthquakes, the quake trials were blocked after the destruction of the zoning archive together with the hastily demolished municipality building. The lawyers stated that this was an attempt at evidence tampering.

Duvar English

Courts in the Nurdağı district of southeastern Gaziantep province have been unable to continue investigations into the Feb. 6 earthquakes due to the loss of the district municipality's archives which were destroyed when the municipality building was hastily demolished. 

The earthquakes caused significant destruction in the district like the rest of the region.

The courts has been demanding “building licenses, occupancy permits, and approved architectural projects” of the demolished buildings from the the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) led Nurdağı Municipality. 

In its official responses to the courts, Nurdağı Municipality stated that “the municipality building was also destroyed in the earthquake on 6 Feb. 2023 and therefore the documents that would affect the course of the lawsuits could not be reached,” according to the daily BirGün.

Aykut Başderici, who has been following many earthquake cases in the district for the quake victims, emphasized that the heavily damaged municipality building was demolished in a hurry as an attempt of evidence tampering.

“After the earthquake, we filed lawsuits against metropolitan municipalities, district municipalities, the Environment, Urbanization and Climate Change Ministry and Disaster and Emergency Management Authority (AFAD) in many regions. The reason for these lawsuits is that not only the citizens but also the authorities should be held responsible for the damages caused by the earthquake,” the lawyer told the daily.

The lawyer stated that the Nurdağı Municipality building was demolished immediately after the earthquakes and added, “The documents requested from the municipality are very important for the proof of the case. In order to establish the municipality's fault, the documents must be submitted to the court in full and complete. We have also understood our curiosity as to why this building was demolished in a hurry.”

The then AKP mayor of Nurdağı, Ökkeş Kavak, was arrested because two buildings he had contracted collapsed in the earthquake. 

The main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) deputies who went to the district on Feb. 27 2023 announced that the municipality building had been "hastily demolished on the evening of the day of the earthquake in order to destroy the evidence."

Lawmakers pointed to the files scattered around and Mersin MP Cengiz Gökçel said, "The archived files of building permits, municipality's income and expenditure documents, construction licenses are here. But they have been turned into rubbish."

CHP lawmakers find the files scattered around the wreckage after the municipality building demolished.