Turkey mine bosses sentenced to up to 22 years over Soma disaster

Court hands out hefty jail sentences over 2014 mining disaster in Soma, in which 301 people were killed.

File Image - Soma Mine
A miner hugs a relative in front of the Soma mine following the disaster [File: Osman Orsal/Reuters]

A Turkish court has handed hefty sentences to former executives of a mine in the country’s west over the deaths of 301 people, Turkey’s deadliest-ever mining disaster.

After a trial lasting more than three years, the court in the western town of Akhisar sentenced Can Gurkan, the former CEO of the Soma mine, to 15 years over the 2014 accident, Turkish daily Hurriyet reported on Wednesday.

The mine’s general manager, Ramazan Dogru, received a sentence of more than 22 years, while the mine’s operations director, Akin Celik received 18 and a half years. His deputy, Ismail Adali, was given 22 and a half years.

The mining disaster occurred when one of the Soma mine pits was engulfed in flames and carbon monoxide gas, trapping a team of some 800 miners working inside.

Inspection reports said the coal had been smouldering for days before the May 13 disaster, releasing toxic gases.

A report after the disaster found a long list of faults at the mine, including a lack of carbon monoxide detectors, poorly maintained gas masks and bad ventilation.

Lawyers for the families of the victims say that the owners of the Soma mine had tried to over-exploit their workers for the sake of profit, resulting in “working conditions worthy of slavery”.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies