Turkish lawyers sue contractors of demolished buildings, demand ban on their int’l travel

In the aftermath of the Feb. 6-dated major earthquakes, 170 lawyers have filed a joint criminal complaint, demanding that authorities launch an investigation into the contractors of the demolished buildings and ban them from leaving the country pending trial.   

Duvar English

Some 170 lawyers from Turkey’s 11 provinces have filed a joint criminal complaint against the contractors that built the demolished buildings in the earthquake-stricken provinces and demanded that they be banned from traveling abroad.

In the complaints submitted to the local public prosecutors, the lawyers said that the contractors should be accused of “causing death by conscious negligence,” according to reporting by the online news outlet Artı Gerçek.  

The complaint demanded that the relevant public officials should also stand trial for allowing improper building regulations and negligence in inspection. “This (disaster) is the fault of those who built these rotten buildings, those who allowed them to be built, those who shut their eyes, and those who did not inspect them,” the complaint read.

One of the signatories of the complaint, lawyer Cesim Parlak from the Istanbul Bar Association, issued a statement, saying that the investigation should also cover the relevant municipality officials, including provincial and district mayors. “This chain (of investigation) should start with the mayors and all municipality officials should be included. Other than that, it should be expanded to cover the contractors and building control officials,” Parlak said.

He said that the investigations launched in the aftermath of the 1999 Marmara earthquake had been only “symbolic” and just a couple of contractors had received jail terms, such as Veli Göçer in the Yalova province. He said that the authorities’ legal immunity to corrupt contractors was the reason why thousands of people again died in a new major earthquake.

With thousands of buildings and even airports collapsing in the two major earthquakes in southeastern Turkey on Feb. 6, questions have been raised with regards to the infrastructure’s standards.

As the death toll nears 20,000, anger is rising among the public, with people saying supervision of the building regulations only stayed on paper. The widespread destruction is seen as a sign that there are serious problems with regards to the implementation and reinforcement of the necessary building standards.