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Turkey jails mine bosses over 2014 deadly accident


AFP
ISTANBUL
A TURKISH court on Wednesday handed jail terms of up to 22 years to five top managers convicted of negligence over Turkey's worst ever mining disaster, which claimed hundreds of lives.
The accident in May 2014 killed 301 people when one of the pits of the Soma mine became engulfed by flames and carbon monoxide gas, trapping 800 miners working inside.
The tragedy sparked protests and raised new concerns about Turkey's dire industrial safety record.
Relatives and the opposition denounced Wednesday's verdicts -- handed out on negligence rather than murder convictions -- as outrageously lenient after prosecutors had initially demanded terms of 301 times 25 years for all the main suspects.
After a trial lasting over three years, the court in the western Turkish town of Akhisar jailed the former CEO of the Soma mine, Can Gurkan, for 15 years, the state-run Anadolu news agency said.
The mine's general manager Ramazan Dogru and technical manager Ismail Adali were handed prison sentences of 22 years and six months, and operations manager Akin Celik and technical supervisor Ertan Ersoy 18 years and nine months, it added.
The chairman of the Soma Mines Company which owned the mine, Alp Gurkan, the father of Can Gurkan, was acquitted along with 36 other suspects.
Out of 51 suspects on trial, nine other lower-ranking mine managers were given jail terms of six to 11 years.
The Dogan news agency said the verdicts prompted victims' lawyers and families to walk out of court in protest. Emergency services needed to be called as several collapsed due to stress, it added.

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