Trial over Turkey mine disaster opens in April
ANKARA - Dozens of suspects will stand trial next month over Turkey's worst-ever mine disaster that claimed 301 lives last year, local media said Monday.
Among the defendants due to appear when the trial opens on April 13 are eight executive managers of the Soma mine who are in custody on charges of causing multiple deaths.
To help accommodate the victims' families, the case will be heard at a special tribunal set up in a cultural centre in Akhisar in western Turkey, the private Dogan news agency reported.
Akhisar is located some 40 kilometres (25 miles) from the coal mining town of Soma where the disaster took place in May.
Prosecutors are demanding life sentences for the eight managers for each of the deaths in Turkey's deadliest industrial accident, according to Dogan.
The remaining 37 suspects face up to 15 years in prison for causing multiple deaths and injuries by negligence, it added.
The tragedy at the privately-run operation reignited concerns over lax safety in Turkey, which has the highest number of mining-related deaths in Europe.
A blast ripped through the mine which then collapsed. Most of the victims were killed by carbon monoxide poisoning.
Expert reports pointed to several safety violations, including a shortage of carbon monoxide detectors, ceilings made of wood instead of metal, and a lack of high-quality gas masks.
The government has denied claims there were loopholes in safety regulations, saying that Turkish norms meet international standards.
Turkey's previous worst mining accident occurred in 1992 when 263 workers were killed in a gas explosion in a mine in Zonguldak in the north of the country.