A court refused May 21 a prosecutors' demand for the arrest of the owner of the Soma mine's operator, ruling that there "was no evidence showing his responsibility" in the accident last week that claimed the lives of at least 301 workers, Hürriyet Daily News reported.
Main opposition Republican People's Party's (CHP) Manisa lawmaker Özgür Özel announced via Twitter on May 20 that prosecutors investigating the mining disaster were seeking the arrest of Soma Coal Mine Company owner Alp Gürkan but failed to find him at two addresses.
However, the court saw no necessity for the arrest, referencing an initial expert report that stated there were no "piece of information showing that Gürkan had a fault" in the accident.
Gürkan said that he believed the company had "no negligence" in the accident during a press conference in Soma on May 16.
The top two people responsible at the mine, company CEO Can Gürkan, who is also the owner's son, and General Manager Ramazan Doğru were arrested overnight on May 19.
Prosecutors have determined 39 suspects based on the first expert report on the disaster, including three who died in the accident. Eight among the remaining 36 have been arrested, while nine were released on probation pending trial.
Workers and families of victims have begun staging a sit-in in front of the Soma courthouse, demanding a transparent prosecution and demanding a probe into the head of the Maden-İş union, accusing the labor organization of not fulfilling its responsibility.
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