Turkey's top court says rights of Soma mine disaster victims violated

The Turkish Constitutional Court has ruled on Monday the right to life of miners who lost their lives in a mine disaster in the country’s western town of Soma in 2014 had been violated, Cumhuriyet reported.

An explosion in Soma mine in the province of Manisa killed 301 workers in 2014 in Turkey's worst ever industrial accident. The blast and subsequent fire were blamed on lax safety procedures at the mine and the Turkish government came under strong criticism for its handling of the issue.

Following a trial that lasted four years, several board members of the Soma Coal Management Corporation were handed lengthy prison sentences in July last year.

The expert report also attributed responsibility for the disaster to state inspectors and institutions with monitoring powers responsible for multiple failures in their duty of oversight.

But the minister of labour and social security and of energy and natural resources withheld permission to pursue a criminal investigation against officials. They were able to block an investigation based on a controversial law which states that prosecutors need administrative permission to investigate state officials for offences committed in the course of their public duties.

"Failure to prosecute or press charges against those who cause individuals' lives to be compromised can result in a violation of their right to life," the top court's ruling said.

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