Families of high-speed train accident victims say justice stalled for 4 years

The families of people who died in a high-speed train accident in Turkey in 2018 on Wednesday said they were still waiting for accountability and justice to prevail, Independent Turkish reported.

During a court hearing the families said although four years had passed since the accident, the prosecutor’s office still had not prepared an indictment. They pointed out that none of the suspects were in pretrial detention. The families walked out of the courtroom in the middle of the hearing, saying they had no words left to say.

Before the hearing the families organized a demonstration in a park close to the courthouse and demanded justice. Several opposition politicians, including Özcan Aygün and Muharrem Erkek from the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and Ahmet Şık from the Turkish Labor Party (TIP), participated in the demonstration.

“The Justice and Development Party (AKP) government is responsible for this accident, and this is why the judicial process is taking so long,” said Mehmet Öz, the grandfather of Oğuz Arda Sel, who was killed in the accident.

Zeliha Bilgin, the mother of victim Bihter Bilgin, brought her daughter’s slacks to the courtroom. “Here are the slacks of my 14-year-old daughter,” she said. “You can see the blood of a 14-year-old on them. My daughter’s blood. I live with this every day.”

Bilgin fainted after the hearing and regained consciousness with the help of Canan Kaftancıoğlu from the CHP.

“None of the men who were responsible for the death of my son and seven other children  — 25 victims — were even questioned,” said Mısra Öz, Sel’s mother, on Twitter on Wednesday.

 

In July 2018 the northwestern province of Tekirdağ was the scene of a train derailment that claimed the lives of 25 people and injured 328 others. Many said the accident occurred because of the authorities’ failure to maintain the tracks, which were dislodged following heavy rain in the region.

Öz as well as the families of other victims complain that senior officials from the state rail company, the Transportation Ministry and others who bear the actual responsibility for the tragedy have not been brought to justice and that only four railway employees responsible for maintenance, repair and yearly inspection of the tracks are standing trial. The employees face up to 15 years in prison for involuntary manslaughter.

In the four years that have passed since the accident, Erdinç Dikmen, the father of two girls who died, suffered a heart attack and also died.

Öz said Dikmen had no significant health problems and that the heart attack was the result of years of emotional stress he endured while seeking justice for his daughters.

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