The trial of a collapsed hotel owner and ten other suspects has begun in Turkey. It is seen as the first major criminal case related to last year's devastating earthquakes. At least 50,000 people died in Türkiye.
The trial comes in the wake of the collapse of a four-star hotel in the city of Adiyaman. 72 people were killed, including 26 children from Northern Cyprus. They were in Türkiye for a volleyball tournament.
Experts say there are major structural defects in the building. The building was four stories higher than intended. In addition, the concrete used was of poor quality and the steel reinforcing bars in that concrete were very thin. No soil investigation was performed before construction.
The suspects are accused of negligence and face a prison sentence of 22.5 years. A separate investigation is underway with the authorities responsible for granting permits.
The families of the victims had come to Adiyaman for the trial. They emotionally raised banners with pictures of their deceased children outside the court. To strengthen the case, Turkish Cypriot Prime Minister Unal Östell joined the plaintiffs. He also attended the first session on Wednesday.
Also the contractor in Diyarbakir is in the dock
It was also announced on Wednesday that a case would be filed against a contractor in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir. The construction company is responsible for the collapse of an apartment complex. 60 people were killed and 9 others were injured.
A building permit has not been issued for the building. Poor quality concrete was also used during construction. In addition, supervision was absent. The owner of the construction company was sentenced to 22.5 years in prison.
Debris removal is still underway in the earthquake zone. In the hard-hit city of Antakya, the remains of some 83,000 collapsed or severely damaged buildings had to be removed over the past 11 months. This work is almost complete.
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