BERK – What will happen in Soma?

What will happen in Soma?I know many people feel very embarrassed going to sleep at night thinking of how those who were buried under smoke, coal, millions of tons of earth and gross negligence felt. No words will make those who lost their fathers, sons, husbands, friends or relatives down there feel better. If it brings some relief, I know no one is ignoring what has happened there in Soma. We lost motivation, happiness and peace, if there was any to begin with at all.How would you feel if you were the person in charge of security at this coal mine? Would any of us risk the lives of these men for more profits made on tight budgets for safety? I don’t want to believe that someone did. I want to remain optimistic about this. It will not help, it will not cool down the rage but at least those who are left behind deserve to see that this accident happened even though all the measures were taken seriously.Under normal circumstances the manager found to have been responsible for failing to take the necessary security measures should have already been taken into custody, even if a 10th of the scale of the current disaster had occurred. The magnitude of the disaster makes us feel terrible. The law does not see the loss of 300 people as being much different from the loss of three people. Certainly the penalties will be heavier when there is a massive loss but the magnitudes of the penalties are not the same pro rata with the magnitude of the loss.If I may give an example about penalties against a manager failing to conduct his managerial duties prudently, a case regarding a cement factory may help shed some light on the matter.The incident took place during the replacement of bricks and the reassembly of an oven wall. Two workers died due to the collapse of the oven wall during assembly. The criminal court decided that the manager could have taken better measures to avoid this accident and had failed to implement a protective net or scaffolding system. The manager also failed to take into account proper timing since the bricks to be taken out fell apart mainly due to a lack of cooling time.In this case the court sentenced the manager of the company to two years in prison and did not allow the sentence to be converted to monetary fines or other lighter penalties. Courts usually convert imprisonment into lighter penalties but in this case there was too much evidence showing a lack of security measures at the workplace.I read that the inspection reports concerning security of the mining facility at Soma was always positive. This makes me believe the inspection reports may be wrong.So what will happen in Soma now? In my humble opinion, a large legal case will follow in which all legal tools will be employed against the company running the coal mine very soon. However, it will not continue as it starts. My prediction is as follows: There will be new inspectors appointed to check whether security measures were taken. The inspectors will take a long time to check and there will be reports comprising thousands of pages. The prosecutor will ask the court to arrest some junior officers of the company. A few people will be temporarily arrested and then released after the first hearing and will face fines in exchange for imprisonment at the end.On the other hand, it is a fact that arresting and putting a few people in prison is only a show for the public and that this will not help anyone at this stage. I understand that the investigation is still in progress and there is no point in arresting people who may have had a minor role in the rescue efforts.The point is we must not have a new Soma in the future. We cannot bear it.NOTE: Berk ektir is a Turkish lawyer and available to answer questions on the legal aspects of living and doing business in Turkey. Please send inquiries to If a sender’s letter is published, names may be disclosed unless otherwise is expressly stated by the sender.DISCLAIMER: The information provided here is intended to give basic legal information. You should get legal assistance from a licensed attorney at law while conducting legal transactions and not rely solely on the information in this column.

SOURCE: Today’s Zaman

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