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Four remanded in Turkey in connection with hotel collapse

aftermath of the deadly earthquake in kahramanmaras
File photo: The devastation caused by the earthquake

The owner and three managers of the Isias Hotel whose collapse following two earthquakes in Adiyaman killed dozens of people, including 35 members of the Turkish Cypriot volleyball team, have been remanded, media reported on Saturday.

The father and sons of Bozkurt, Ahmet, Mehmet and Efe, owners and managers of the collapsed hotel were arrested in the course of the investigation into the building’s construction, which, was said to had collapsed like a “house of cards.”

The court issued a decision for their transfer to the Siberek prison.

It also imposed a ban on leaving the country and a judicial control against the other suspects, Ulviye and Bozkurt and Sioule Ozbek.

Meanwhile, Turkish Cypriot websites refer to a report in the Turkish Milliyet that the hotel, built as a family home, was left unoccupied for 10 years and sold to the Bozkurt company in 2001.

According to the operating certificate from Turkey’s ministry of culture and tourism, the hotel’s capacity was increased from 37 to 66 rooms in 2005 and the hotel’s capacity increased to 132 beds. A photo said to have been taken in the lobby before the hotel’s collapse was shared on social media showing that some pillars in the lobby were cut off.

Abdulkadir Khemizi, who served as mayor of Adiyaman from 1994 to 2004, said he did not remember approving a permit to convert it from a residential complex to a hotel in 2001. “It will become clear after the technical examination why the hotel collapsed. I can’t possibly remember the permit approval 22 years ago,” he said.

Tourism Law expert Ilker Unsever, who provided information on the licensing and inspection mechanism for hotels, said the municipality gave the permit for the use of a building as a workplace.

Noting that the ministry checks the compliance of the building’s operation with the permit and the issuance of the tourism operation certificate, he said that “if there is a contradiction in terms of the project’s compliance with the permit, the permit can be revoked.”

Hakan Benlioglou, chairman of the board of directors of the tour guides association, which also lost many of its members in the hotel collapse, said they will file a lawsuit for intentional murder against the authorities for not fulfilling their inspection duties at every stage of construction and use of the building, especially against the contractor and those responsible for building the collapsed hotel, and for starting the search and rescue work late and wrongly.

A school of 39 people from Famagusta stayed at the hotel for a volleyball tournament. During the earthquake only four adults escaped, while the other 35 people were found dead in the rubble of the hotel.

Most of the victims were children.

The head of the Turkish Cypriot Bar Association, Hasan Esendagli had said that their job is difficult, but they are cooperating with the Turkish Bar Association and the team of four lawyers from there.

Esendagli said that he would be heading the Turkish Cypriot team in the case, which will represent the families.

“Our goal is to support our families that want to fulfil their obligation by seeking the rights of their children and relatives, who they lost in the most painful way,” he said.

In all 49 Turkish Cypriots died in the earthquake.

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