None of the cases of mass worker deaths in Turkey in the past six years has been resolved. Some think the greatest obstacle in this issue is the length of time it takes to prepare expert’s reports in the investigation and trial stages.
Zonguldak Karadon Case: 30 workers lost their lives as a result of the firedamp explosion on May 17, 2010 in Karadon Institute Headquarters’ mine in Zonguldak’s Gemik town. The chief prosecution filed a case against 30 people including the institute manager, Yapı-Tek company partners, and the site manager, charging them with “causing death by gross negligence” with 15 years maximum penalty. Zonguldak 2nd High Criminal Court has not been able to resolve the case in the past 4 years due to contradictions in the expert’s reports. In the last hearing of the case on February 12, 2014, the prosecutor asked for the appointment of a new panel of experts, stating that the 5 expert’s reports at hand were insufficient to give a ruling. However, the court gave this 6th report to a panel that had already prepared a report for the disaster. In this report the panel blamed the workers with “negligence for not wearing gas masks.” They also held the deceased engineers responsible for the erroneous placement of gas monitoring sensors and negligence on getting gas measurements.
Afşin Elbistan Thermal Plant Case: 11 workers lost their lives in 2 different landslides that took place in Kahramanmaraş Elbistan on February 6 and 9, 2011. Afşin Chief Prosecution launched a case against 9 executives from Park Teknik AŞ in charge of running the coalfield, and 14 employees of EÜAŞ Kontrol Teşkilatı for “causing death by conscious gross negligence.” The court postponed the hearing on February 21, 2014 for the completion of missing materials.
Zonguldak Kozlu Case: 8 miners lost their lives as a result of the methane gas explosion on January 7, 2013 in Turkish Coal Enterprises (TTK) linked Kozlu Institute Headquarters. It turned out that the mine underwent 7 inspections in 2010 and 2011 and that the company was fined 3,500 TL for 45 deficiencies in the mine. TTK stated in its 2011 annual report that the company had neglected to the appropriate drilling necessary to show the methane gas beforehand. Nonetheless, the prosecution still has not filed a case over a year after the incident. The expert’s reports prepared in the investigation found fault with TTK and subcontracting company executives.
Ostim İvedik Case: 20 workers lost their lives due to explosion and fire on February 3, 2011 in two distinct worksites in Ankara Ostim Organized Industrial Zone. The prosecution launched a case for “causing death by gross negligence, illegal possession of dangerous material” against 9 executives of the companies found faulty in the expert’s report. The expert’s report prepared for the case at Ankara 10th High Criminal Court stated that one of the worksites in question was unlicensed and hence government employees were not to blame. The prosecution launched a case against 9 more people as a result of the families’ objections, which raised the number of defendants to 18. The cases are ongoing.
Esenyurt Tent Fire Case: 11 workers employed at the mall construction in Istanbul Esenyurt burned to death when a fire erupted in their dormitory on March 11, 2012. The prosecution filed a case against 13 defendants including the executive at the company constructing the mall, the contractor, and the subcontracting company executives at the Bakırköy 4th High Criminal Court 6 months after the event. During the hearings, one defense attorney asked a witness why the workers did not jump across the fire. The families of the deceased workers reacted strongly when the attorney, in response to the worker’s response that the fire was too high, asked, “They could jump across the fire the way we do in Hıdrellez bonfires; why didn’t they?” Families objected to the expert’s report saying the experts had ignored the defendants’ crimes.
Davutpaşa Case: 21 people lost their lives in the explosion that took place in a clandestine sparkler workshop on January 31, 2008. The prosecution launched a related case 2 years after the explosion. The prosecution later on filed a lawsuit against then Zeytinburnu mayor Murat Aydın and Employment Regional Manager Atakan Tanış as well. The expert’s report on the case arrived at the 16th hearing. The case is ongoing.
Muğla Milas Güllük Case: 7 workers lost their lives during the maintenance of a 7-meter-deep depot in a water purification facility as a result of methane gas poisoning. The prosecution is still waiting for the completion of expert’s reports to file a case.
Adana Kozan Dam Disaster: 10 workers lost their lives when the mechanical tunnel lid exploded at the Gökdere Bridge construction on February 24, 2012. While 5 workers’ bodies were found after the incident, the remaining 5 bodies have not been found, despite the 2 year time period since the incident. 17 defendants including the business owner behind the construction of the dam and the subcontracting firm’s engineers and executives stand trial, charged with up to 15 years in prison for “causing death by gross negligence.”
Erzurum Aşkale Tedaş Case: 5 workers sent on paddleboat on April 3, 2012 to repair a malfunction at the power transport line passing through the pond of Karasu-2 Hydroelectric Plant lost their lives when their boat capsized on the ice-covered pond. Inspection of their bodies found 2 days after the incident revealed that the workers awaiting rescue clung on the ice for 3 hours. The court arrested the company’s Worksite Maintenance Manager Tuncer Yeşilyurt after the incident, but let him go 25 days later on the grounds that the personnel had gone to repair the malfunction on their own initiative. The case against 6 people involved with the event is ongoing.