Court holds 1st hearing in landmark quake case

A Hatay court has held the initial hearing of the case involving alleged negligence in the construction of the Rönesans Residence, in which over 260 people died in last year's devastating earthquakes in the country's south.

Dubbed as a "corner of paradise," the luxury residence in Hatay tilted backward as a whole during the earthquakes on Feb. 6, 2023. Rönesans, which is translated as "Renaissance," became a symbol of the rot in terms of the structural integrity of the buildings that collapsed in the earthquakes.

Among the casualties were Hatayspor footballer Christian Atsu, Hatayspor Sports Director Taner Savut and national handball player Cemal Kütahya. The official figures reported 269 fatalities and 13 injuries, with some victims' bodies recovered after weeks of search efforts.

During the landmark trial's first hearing, imprisoned contractor Mehmet Yaşar Coşkun argued that the fact that the building lay on its side "without collapsing and falling apart" was an indication that the building was solid, causing a reaction in the courtroom.

The court committee noted that the 15-story building did not comply with earthquake regulations and leaned backward.

"In such an earthquake, the building did not collapse despite tilting on its side, its skeleton remained intact. This is evidence of the building's sturdy construction," Coskun told the judges.

Adjourning the second hearing to July 17, the court decided to continue the detention of four out of the eight defendants. Hüseyin Yalçın Coşkun, the contractor's brother and the responsible official for the static project of the residence, site manager and company partner, is currently wanted with a red notice.

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