Trial into Ermenek mining disaster begins amid tears

KARAMAN: The first hearing of the trial into the killing of 18 coal miners, who died during a major accident occurred in Ermenek town in Karaman on Oct. 28, was held at the Ermenek High Criminal Court on Monday.

The Ermenek mine accident left 18 people trapped underground after the mine was flooded with water that failed to drain from one of the shafts. Seven people, including five engineers, the owner and two senior officials at the mine, were detained on Nov. 8 by the police on suspicion of negligence. Saffet Uyar, the owner of the Ermenek Has Sekerler Mining Ltd. coal mine, was arrested by a court on Nov. 10.

The hearing was supposed to kick off at 9: 30 a.m. but tension erupted before the hearing which led to a delay. When the defendants were taken to the court building by the security forces, families of the victims broke into tears. Some people had nervous attack and attempted to attack the defendants. When three arrestees were brought to the hearing hall, the victims’ relatives attempted to attack them by saying “You bring these murderers in front of us without any shame.” Due to the tension, the judge of the court decided to take the arrestee out of the hearing room.

Apart from Uyar, Abdullah Özbey — a top executive of the Ermenek Cenne Lignite Coal Ltd. Company — and a technical supervisor Ali Kurt are also being tried under arrest. The Ermenek Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office is seeking from 20 to 25 years for the Ermenek trial’s suspects on the charges of committing multiple murders by conscious negligence.