Akhisar : Dozens of suspects go on trial Monday over modern Turkey’s worst mining disaster that left 301 miners dead in the western town of Soma and tarnished the image of the government under Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Forty-five people are to stand trial, including eight former top managers from the Soma Komur group that ran the mine who are charged with murder. The trial, which is expected to be lengthy, is being heard around 50 kilometers from Soma in western Turkey by a court in the town of Akhisar. It is scheduled to get underway at 0630 GMT.
The accident on May 13, 2014 raised new concerns about Turkey’s dire industrial safety record and exposed the lacklustre reaction of the government led by Erdogan, now president but then premier. Erdogan had notoriously appeared to play down the disaster, saying that accidents are in the nature of the business and comparing it to accidents in Industrial Revolution-era Britain.
The tragedy sparked protests that rattled the government a year after the mass anti-government rallies in Istanbul and elsewhere, with an adviser to Erdogan raising tensions by kicking a protestor in Soma in an incident caught on camera. The disaster happened when one of the pits of the Soma mine became engulfed by flames and carbon monoxide gas, trapping a team of some 800 miners working inside.
Prosecutors said that the miners were killed after inhaling gas and toxic smoke from the fire which was caused when an abandoned pile of coal left next to an electrical transformer caught fire.