Turkey Opens First Major Trial Into Earthquake Deaths

Turkey Opens First Major Trial Into Earthquake Deaths
Image copyright: Wikimedia Commons

The Facts

  • Turkey opened its first major trial on Wednesday in the city of Adiyaman over alleged construction deficiencies in buildings that collapsed last year in two major earthquakes that killed tens of thousands of people.

  • The hearing concerns 11 defendants, including the owner of the four-star Grand Isias Hotel, who are charged with "conscious negligence" in the building's construction. According to the prosecution, the collapse of the hotel could have been prevented if safety standards had been adhered to during construction.

The Spin

Narrative A

While it's understandable for the victims' families to demand justice, the principle of innocence until proven guilty still applies. If safety regulations were indeed breached for profit during the hotel's construction, the government would also be to blame. It was Ankara that initiated a construction boom to boost the country's economy, and thus turned a blind eye to building regulation violations that had been tightened after previous disasters. Given the power of the Erdoğan apparatus, it is more than doubtful that justice will ever be served.

Narrative B

Everything points to the defendants deliberately violating construction standards that turned a building into a death trap. Since Turkey has already been hit by severe earthquakes in the past, the hotel's construction means nothing other than that human lives were gambled with to cut costs. The blame lies not with Erdoğan but with corrupt contractors who bribed local authorities to use cheap building materials and illegally add extra floors. The trial shows that the Turkish legal system works and will work to prevent tragedies like this in the future.

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