A court in the southern province of Adana handed down prison sentences to officials of an association which operated a girls’ dormitory in the province’s Aladağ district three years ago.
Eleven young girls and a dormitory official were killed when a three-story, privately run dormitory caught fire in 2016. An electrical fault was blamed for the fire. The manager of the dormitory, whose 6-year-old daughter was also among the victims, and the chairman of the association that ran the dormitory for female students hailing from poor, rural parts of Adana, were charged with causing the deaths and injuries due to negligence.
The court sentenced association’s chairman İsmail Uğur to 12 years in prison and handed down 11 years to dormitory manager Cuma Ali Genç. Five other officials from the association were sentenced to prison terms between eight and 10 years. The court issued suspended prison terms of seven months for officials from the local education authority who were accused of failing to inspect the dormitory.
The incident triggered outrage over perceived safety negligence in cases of emergency while authorities pledged a comprehensive investigation to find out who was responsible for the tragedy.
An initial report prepared by expert witnesses investigating the scene found out that the electricity power board supplying electricity to the building was old and a fault in the old electricity switches caused the fire.
Experts also said that the wooden interior of the building helped the fire to quickly get out of hand and highlighted that emergency exit doors were made of PVC, a material that is not flame retardant.
Four survivors of the fire had claimed that the fire exits were sealed shut while Cuma Ali Genç, in an earlier hearing, had blamed the girls for “emptying fire extinguishers” in the dormitory.