Family members of 301 victims of a 2014 mine disaster in the Soma district of Turkey’s Manisa province who marched to Ankara to seek justice have been subjected to police force, the Evrensel daily reported on Monday.
The family members of the 301 miners who perished in the tragedy launched the march in protest of court decisions announced on July 11 in the trial of five executives of the company operating the mine where the country’s worst mining tragedy occurred.
The company’s general manager and technical manager were both sentenced to 22 years in prison. Two other company officials were sentenced to nearly 19 years, and the chairman was sentenced to 15 years in prison.
The court acquitted more than 30 of 51 defendants who had been put on trial over the 301 deaths on charges ranging from “killing with probable intent” to “criminally negligent manslaughter.”
The families of the victims were outraged by the sentences given to the mining company officials which they said fell short of serving any justice.
The family members arrived in Ankara on Monday where they gathered in front of the Council of Judges and Prosecutors (HSK) building to make a statement; however, the families were confronted by police, who used pepper spray to disperse the crowd, saying that they were not allowed to make a public statement.
Some deputies from the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) were also at the scene to extend their support to the families.
The mining disaster in Soma occurred when one of the Soma mine pits was engulfed in flames and filled with carbon monoxide, trapping some 800 miners working inside.
Inspection reports said the coal had been smoldering for days before the May 13, 2014 disaster, releasing toxic gases.
The trial of the defendants lasted for more than three years.