ISTANBUL (Reuters) – A Turkish court sentenced five mining executives to up to 22 years in jail on Wednesday for their role in the coal mine disaster in May 2014 that killed 301 people, the ruling showed.
The deaths were caused by a fire that swept through the mine in the town of Soma, 480 km (300 miles) south of Istanbul. It was Turkey’s worst industrial disaster and the world’s biggest mining disaster this century.
Critics said the accident, which triggered mass protests, showed the government was too close to industry bosses and was insensitive, after Tayyip Erdogan, who was prime minister at the time and is now president, said the disaster was part of the profession’s “destiny.”
Mine operator Soma Holding denied negligence, while the government said existing mining safety regulations were sound.
Soma Holding’s general manager and technical manager were jailed for 22 years in prison, according to the ruling seen by Reuters. Two other company officials were jailed for nearly 19 years and the chairman was sentenced to 15 years in prison.