Woman who lost son in Turkey train accident fined on insult charges

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A court has fined a woman whose 9-year-old son was among the victims of a train accident in Turkey in 2018 on charges of insulting a public official, according to Turkish media reports.

In July 2018 the northwestern province of Tekirdağ was the scene of a train derailment that claimed the lives of 25 people and injured 328 others. Many said the accident occurred because of the authorities’ failure to maintain the tracks, which were dislodged following heavy rain in the region.

Mısra Öz, whose son Oğuz Arda Sel was among the victims of the crash, has been campaigning on social media to bring those responsible for the deadly accident to account. In addition to Sel, six other children also perished in the crash.

Mısra Öz with her son, Oğuz Arda Sel

Öz has been ordered by a court to pay a fine of TL 8,840 ($1,200) on charges of insulting a public official due to her social media messages about the panel of judges that is hearing the trial of the people allegedly responsible for the train accident.

In one of her tweets, Öz likened the panel of judges to “a panel that prefers to see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil.” She was indicted due to her remarks, which criticized the judges for not holding a fair trial.

In remarks to the Birgün daily, Öz said the court ruling shows that the judiciary is not independent and is under the control of “some” in Turkey, an implicit reference to the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP).

“I don’t take the punishment given to me seriously. These are really shameful acts. It is disgraceful to initiate legal proceedings against families [of the victims], their lawyers and journalists [following the trial],” said Öz.

Öz as well as families of other victims complain that senior officials from the state rail company, the Transportation Ministry and others who bear the actual responsibility for the tragedy are not brought to justice and that only four railway employees responsible for maintenance, repair and yearly inspection of the tracks are standing trial. The employees face up to 15 years in prison for involuntary manslaughter.

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