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The fifth hearing of the case against 14 defendants, 6 of whom were jailed, charged with the school dormitory fire that killed 11 children and 1 teacher, and injured 22 pupils in Adana's Aladağ district was held today (February 26).
The trial was held at Kozan Chamber of Commerce Conference Hall and was handled by Kozan High Penal Court. Families of the deceased children reiterated their calls for justice prior to the hearing.
Attorneys asked for the arrest of four defendants released by interlocutory decision. The prosecutor asked for the request to be denied. The court denied the request to re-arrest the four defendants, and ruled in favor of the continuation of detention of the other two jailed defendants.
The next hearing is set for May 24.
Objection to expert opinion
According to Rıfat Doğan's article on Diken, foundation administrators Ramazan Keleş, Mahir Kılıç, Mustafa Öztaş and dormitory worker Mahmut Deniz had been released with the court's interlocutory decision on February 8, 2018 following the fourth hearing on December 11, 2017 based on the expert's opinion stating the defendants to be guilty of "negligence in the second degree". Justification for the court's release decision had also included "that the motive for arrest has already been realized for these defendants".
The attorneys objected to the expert's opinion at the hearing today. One of the attorneys, Evren İşler spoke as follows:
"The expert's opinion portrays the incident as an occupational accident. No action can be taken based on this report, let alone giving a sentence. The expert's opinion is riddled with contradiction. It states there was a delay in notifying the fire department, but finds fault with fire department authorities who aren't even defendants yet. Experts judge the incident to be an occupational accident. We must ask them then, where is the labor contract between the schoolgirls who burned to death and the dormitory administration? The dorm manager says he has been doing this job for 40 years. It is unacceptable for someone who has been running dormitories for 40 years not to foresee this danger. Clearly, he is at fault.
"The expert's opinion in the case file is contradictory in itself, it is inconsistent, goes against legislation, groundless, and attempts to extort the court's capacity for judgment by basing its claims solely on defendants' accounts. That it should be the basis of a ruling is unthinkable.
Dormitory manager Cumali Genç and Aladağ Course and School Students Aid Foundation President İsmail Uğur are jailed defendants in the case.
One of the foundation's administrative board members, Ramazan Dede, had been released due to health problems. Foundation administrators Ramazan Keleş, Mahir Kılıç, Mustafa Öztaş and dormitory worker Mahmut Deniz were also released by interlocutory decision.
The civil servants on pre-trial release consist of then Aladağ District National Education Director Mehmet Aktaş and Aladağ District National Education Branch Head Davut Gökçeli, officials who inspected the dormitory and prepared reports, namely Aladağ District National Education Branch Head Ramazan Arı and Cihan Ünal, Bayram Aydın and Mehmet İpek and Zeki Yılmaz.
The defendants are charged with "manslaughter and involuntary injury" and facing 2 to 15 years jail time. (BK/PU)
* Photo by Social Rights Foundation / Twitter
** We drew on postings by the Social Rights Foundation and journalist Rıfat Doğan in preparing this article.
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