Turkish court arrests CHP mayor over fatal cable car accident

A Turkish court arrested Antalya province’s Kepez district mayor Mesut Kocagöz from the main-opposition CHP over the cable car accident that left one dead and 17 injured. CHP began to hold a “justice watch” in front of the prison.

Kepez district mayor Mesut Kocagöz

Duvar English

An Antalya court on April 14 arrested the Mediterrenian province’s Kepez district mayor Mesut Kacagöz and four others on charges of "negligent homicide and causing injury to more than one person" after the the cable car accident that left one dead and 17 injured.

Kocagöz was elected as mayor from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) on March 31 and he has previously served as the manager of the Antalya Municipality’s enterprise ANET in responsible with the cable car among other services.

In his testimony, Kocagöz stated that he left his position at ANET on Nov. 28, 2023 to run for mayor, and that he had no knowledge of the last maintenance work carried out between Feb. 19 and March 4, 2024.

The court also arrested ANET Deputy General Manager Ahmet Buğra Samsunlu, mechanical engineer Okan Erol, Megatower maintenance company owner Serdar Tezcan, maintenance and automation supervisor Serkan Yellice while releasing nine other detainees pending trial.

CHP: 'Arrest solely due to victory in Kepez after 30 years'

CHP members protest the arrest in the province.

CHP Antalya Provincial Chair Nail Kamacı made a statement in front of Antalya Courthouse after the arrest and stated that the only reason for the mayor's arrest was "CHP's electoral victory in Kepez after 30 years,” in the local elections.

"This is the government's understanding of democracy," Kamacı said, adding, "In the past months, nine of our citizens lost their lives in the gold mine in İliç, Erzincan. While six people were arrested there, Murat Kurum, who is the primary responsible, fielded as a candidate for Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality."

CHP Chair Özgür Özel said on X, "While it is obvious that public officials were not investigated in any of the accidents from Soma to İliç, this decision is not legal but political. Undoubtedly, no one's tears should be cared if they involved in the accident. We will continue to closely follow the judicial investigation in the cable car accident, but you cannot scapegoat our mayor just because he is from our party."

After the arrest, protests started in front of the courthouse with the participation of CHP lawmakers, party executives, and district mayors.

CHP members than began a “justice watch” in front of the prison where the district mayor was incarcerated.