ISTANBUL (Reuters) -- A Turkish court sentenced five mining executives to up to 22 years in jail 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 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 prime minister Tayyip Erdogan 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. Two other company officials were jailed for nearly 19 years and the chairman sentenced to 15 years.
The Turkish government tightened work safety rules and imposed tougher penalties in 2014, six months after the Soma disaster.