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Three charged with negligence in Turkish mine disaster probe

© AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-05-19

Three people were arrested on charges of negligence in the Turkish mining disaster that killed 301 people, a prosecutor said on Sunday. The suspects are among 19 people still in custody.

Prosecutor Bekir Sahiner said the three were also charged with the crime of causing multiple deaths. In a news conference in Soma, where the disaster took place, he said that one of those arrested was the company’s operations manager. The manager is Akin Celik, though Sahiner didn’t name him.

A total of 25 people were initially detained and six of them have been released, Sahiner said.

The charges can lead to sentences of between three and fifteen years in prison, according to the Turkish penal code.

Other company executives were among the detained as Turkish officials investigate the mining disaster.

>>> Read on Hürriyet Daily News : Turkish state's policy on mining, high profits at lowest costs <<<

Government and company officials have insisted that the mine was inspected regularly and negligence wasn't a factor in Tuesday's tragedy. But reacting to widespread public anger, government officials promised to investigate and pledged that any mine officials found to be negligent would be punished.

A preliminary expert report on the accident obtained by the Milliyet newspaper pointed to several safety violations in the mine, including a shortage of carbon monoxide sensors and ceilings made of wood instead of metal.

Company officials have described safety standards as high, noting that the mine contained 50 gas sensors and employees were provided with gas masks.

"There is no negligence,'" operations manager Akin Celik said on Friday. "I have been doing this job for 20 years but I have never seen anything like this. We would not want harm to come to a single fingernail of our workers."

Rescue operations came to an end on Saturday after the bodies of the last two trapped miners were retrieved following the country's worst ever industrial accident. Authorities have sealed the mine entrance with bricks.

The disaster has led to a surge of popular anger in Turkey, fuelled by what many saw as a heartless response from the government.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP and AP)

Date created : 2014-05-18

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