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Trial over Cypriot children’s earthquake deaths to begin in January

aftermath of the deadly earthquake in kahramanmaras
Rescuers searching for victims and survivors trapped under the rubble in the aftermath of the earthquake in Turkey

The trials of 11 people being held responsible for the deaths of 24 Turkish Cypriot children following the collapse of the Isias hotel in Adiyaman, Turkey, during February’s earthquakes will begin on January 3.

The 11 defendants have been charged with causing death through conscious negligence. They face a sentence between 32 months and 22 years and six months should they be found guilty.

The families of February’s victims have vehemently campaigned for those responsible to be charged with intentionally killing the children.

Thousands of people gathered in Famagusta last week to demand the charges be upgraded to those of intentional killing, with protestors including Turkish Cypriot Leader Ersin Tatar and multiple members of the north’s cabinet.

‘Transport minister’ Erhan Arikli said “the fact that the people who committed that murder face 22 years in prison and will be released in 10 to 12 years cannot be called an exemplary punishment.”

His comments echoed those of Serdar Denktash, son of late Turkish Cypriot leader Rauf Denktash, who had said there is a “very serious difference” between the charges of causing death through conscious negligence and intentionally killing the victims.

“There must be a case filed in the Isias case based on intent, as requested by the families of the children who were killed,” he had added.

Scientific reports into the hotel building revealed that sand and gravel from a river had been used to construct it, and that a whole floor had been added to the top of the building without the relevant licences being obtained.

A previous report, referenced in the indictment of the 11 defendants, had showed that supporting columns at the hotel had been “cut”.

Following the release of that report, Oguzhan Hasipoglu, chairman of the north’s political affairs ‘parliamentary’ committee, told the families of those killed that “we always said a murder was committed at the Isias hotel.”

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