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Nine of the miners who managed to survive Turkey’s largest ever mining disaster in which 301 people lost their lives in the western district of Soma last year now face the prospect of six years imprisonment each on charges of damaging property and violating a law on staging demonstrations.
A case has been filed against the nine workers at the Soma 2nd Penal Court of First Instance over an indictment filed by the Soma Prosecutor’s Office. The indictment said miners E.A., O.E., T.C., E.M., S.K., C.B., H.G., S.Y., A.M. and N.A. staged a march on June 17, 2014 because they could not take the bodies of their colleagues from the disaster site and closed the Soma Beşyol junction to traffic, prevented passage of a vehicle and caused material damage. The miners are facing charges of violating the Law on Public Meetings and Demonstration and causing material damage during the demonstration.
On May 13, 2014, Turkey was shocked by news of an explosion and fire at a coal mine in Soma, a district in the western province of Manisa. The fire rapidly depleted the oxygen in the mine shaft, causing 301 trapped workers to die of carbon monoxide poisoning. A total of 162 other people were injured in the blast.
The BirGün daily previously reported that a miner who was kicked by then-prime minister and current Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s aide Yusuf Yerkel in Soma following the Soma disaster also faces a prison term of up to six years for damaging Erdoğan’s convoy’s official car.
The Akhisar Public Prosecutor Adem Aktaş launched a case against Erdal Kocabıyık over the damage to the car, which is one used by Erdoğan’s bodyguards and which carries the license plate 06 ZDB 91. In the indictment that he prepared, Aktaş stated that the injured party was the Prime Ministry of the Turkish Republic, and said the damage sustained by the car amounted to TL 543.44. The prosecutor is seeking a prison sentence of between one and six years for damaging public property, as per the Turkish Penal Code (TCK).