Earthquake in Turkey: a year later, officials still spared from justice

A year after the double earthquake of February 6, 2023, the worst disaster in Turkey's modern history, the prosecutions initiated and the handful of open trials spare the officials and politicians who issued building permits at will.

The double earthquake that struck southeastern Turkey on February 6, 2023 caused more than 53,500 deaths. © Adem Altan / AFP

By: RFI Follow


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With our correspondent in Istanbul,

Anne Andlauer

On February 23, 2023, while rescuers were still looking for survivors in the rubble

of the earthquakes that occurred 17 days earlier

, the Turkish Minister of Justice promised that the courts would prosecute "

all those responsible

", "

all those who committed a fault or negligence

”, “

no matter who is concerned

”, “

without any qualms


A year after the tragedy which left more than 53,000 dead, investigations are underway, some trials have begun, but lawyers and NGOs are united in denouncing the absence of officials among the accused. The 2,825 people indicted so far for their alleged role in the disaster (including 267 currently in prison) are real estate developers, local inspectors and other technical personnel. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan himself accuses them of using poor quality materials and violating construction standards.

No trace, in the 369 indictments drawn up so far, of the civil servants and municipal officials who allowed dangerous buildings to be built, and which expert reports often point the finger at. The explanation is simple: in Turkey, before prosecuting a public official for a crime committed in the exercise of his duties, prosecutors must obtain the approval of the competent authorities. Authorizations which, obviously, have all been refused so far.


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  • Türkiye

  • Natural disasters