The Ermenek High Criminal Court announced their arrest order for a mining company manager on Wednesday after the third hearing of the trial regarding the Ermenek mine incident in Turkey’s Central Anatolian province of Karaman.
The court ordered the arrest of Has Sekerler Mining Company Business Manager Yavuz Ozsoy, who was earlier released, on the grounds that he may flee the country and obscure evidence.
The court also decided on the continuation of the detention of the mining company’s owner Saffet Uyar, mining permit holder Abdullah Ozbey, and operating manager Ali Kurt - who were arrested on November 11, 2014.
Sixteen suspects are being tried, four of whom are under arrest.
According to the indictment prepared by the Ermenek Public Prosecutor’s Office, the 16 suspects are accused of “conscious negligent homicide,” due to the mining company allegedly acting against regulations and the forgery of private documents.
The trial on the Ermenek incident began on Monday with tensions high as the families of the miners intervening often as the indictment was being read and tensions were raised by the plaintiffs’ verbal attacks on the suspects during the trial.
The Ermenek mining accident left eighteen miners dead after they were trapped metres below the surface following a flood from an adjacent mine which quickly filled the mine’s galleries on October 28, 2014.
According to a report prepared by a team of mining experts on the incident, drilling was being conducted only three metres from the wastewater that had accumulated in an underground reservoir, rather than at a required distance of 25 metres. The reservoir was then breached causing the water to flood the mine.
The pipes used for draining water from the mine were not installed properly and the galleries, stairs and retaining walls of the mine collapsed as a result of improper construction, experts discovered.
Furthermore, the movement of workers during the disaster revealed how unprepared they were for such an emergency.
“Their location shows they were heading to the main entrance and perceived safe areas instead of the proper emergency exits. This reaction must be linked to the lack of emergency drills in the mine,” the report said.
The Ermenek mine accident came just six months after 301 miners lost their lives when a fire broke out while they were working at a mine in the Aegean town of Soma on May 13, 2014. It was the deadliest mining disaster in Turkish history.
The trial into the Soma mining disaster was postponed to August 18 by the a local court in Akhisar, a district in Turkey’s western province of Manisa, on Tuesday.
The ruling from the court came after a first postponement Monday, when the plaintiffs’ lawyers claimed one attorney could not represent the defendants responsible for workplace safety because of an apparent conflict of interest.
This second delay was ruled in order to allow the defendant's to replace their lawyer.