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Is there a video of the accident in the “Soko” mine: The surviving miners claim that the tragedy could have been prevented, Zorana Mihajlović is proposed as a witness

Miners who survived the accident in the “Soko” mine that happened on April 1 last year, in which eight miners died and more than 20 were injured, will testify in the middle of next month as part of the investigation led by the Basic Public Prosecutor’s Office in Aleksinac (OJT).

The legal representative of the families of the deceased, lawyer Bratislav Stojanović, says that the seven surviving miners have already given statements in which they stated that the concentration of methane in the pit had increased days before and on the night of the accident, but that the mining engineer on duty did not stop work and thus saved lives. their colleagues.

Stojanović proposed as a witness the former Minister of Mining and Energy, Zoran Mihajlović, who, among other things, should clarify whether there is a video recording of the accident and what is on it, if she has such knowledge.

“On that critical night, the devices in the pit were turned off several times, since the electricity supply is automatically cut off when the sensors register methane concentrations higher than 1.5 percent. The increased concentration was testified by the surviving miners, and it was confirmed by the Commission of Experts of the Faculty of Mining and Geology in Belgrade. “Despite the fact that the conditions for a work stoppage were met, the mining engineer on duty did not do so, so that the miners could safely go to the surface”, says lawyer Stojanović for Danas.

Da li postoji snimak nesreće u rudniku “Soko”: Preživeli rudari tvrde da je tragedija mogla biti sprečena, za svedoka predložena Zorana Mihajlović 2Attorney Bratislav Stojanović: Photo by Z. Miladinović/Danas

He says that on the basis of the investigation so far, and especially on the basis of the testimony of the surviving miners, the conditions have been met for the families of the deceased to file criminal charges against those they suspect of being responsible for omissions with tragic consequences.

“We suggested that one of the future witnesses should be former minister Mihajlović, who, among other things, was at the scene immediately after the accident, and on behalf of the Ministry filed a criminal complaint against 14 people, which is still being discussed. Among other things, she could testify to the existence of the video recording on the critical night, which she spoke about immediately after the accident in conversations with the miners, and publicly,” says Stojanović.

He adds that Mihajlovic could also testify about the omissions that led the Ministry to file the criminal complaint, whether it has knowledge that a higher concentration of methane was observed before the mining accident and what irregularities were observed in the mine before the breakthrough of the enormous concentration of this gas.

Aleksinac OJT has not yet made a decision on the proposal for Mihajlovic to be a witness.

Da li postoji snimak nesreće u rudniku “Soko”: Preživeli rudari tvrde da je tragedija mogla biti sprečena, za svedoka predložena Zorana Mihajlović 3Zorana Mihajlović: Photo: Betaphoto/ Ministry of Mining and Energy/ Zoran Petrović

Former minister Mihajlović is ready to testify, stating that “all those whom the prosecution says should testify will testify.”

“The Ministry of Mining and Energy submitted a criminal complaint to the Prosecutor’s Office in Aleksinac, and to the Higher Public Prosecutor’s Office in Niš (VJT). Along with the criminal complaint, we also submitted all supporting documents. Republic inspector for mining Zorica Vukadinović, who came to the scene after the accident and made and signed the minutes, can and should testify about the irregularities in the work. The mining inspector is otherwise independent in his work. And everything I have said so far is from the documentation in the criminal complaint, which the inspector did,” Mihajlović told Danas.

By the way, the Ministry filed a criminal complaint against 14 persons to the Niš Police Department in August of last year for a serious offense against general security “from Article 288, paragraph 4, in connection with Article 280, paragraph 3, in connection with paragraph 2 of the Criminal Code”.

It announced that it considers those persons responsible because “the works were carried out on the basis of incorrect and invalid documentation, as well as for inaction or actions contrary to regulations on the night when the accident occurred.” It stated that there are indications that the Technical Mining Project was ordered on the basis of the supplementary and main mining project for which there were no approvals from the relevant ministry or the approvals had expired.

The Niš Public Prosecutor’s Office forwarded this application to the Aleksinac Public Prosecutor’s Office, which rejected it in January of this year because “there are no grounds for suspecting that a criminal offense has been committed, which is being prosecuted ex officio”. Previously, on July 26 of last year, the Aleksinac OJT made a decision that “there are no grounds for initiating criminal proceedings against any person, because the actions of any person did not constitute any of the criminal acts for which they are being prosecuted ex officio”.

Lawyer Stojanović filed an objection to the January decision of the Aleksinac OJT, which ordered a re-investigation. At the same time, he initiated the formation of an inquiry commission in the Serbian Parliament that will review the work of the Ministry of Mining and Energy, as well as the public prosecutor’s offices that decided in this case.

The families are ready, if there is “no justice for them” in Serbia, to seek it before the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg, he said.

Stojanović also said that in the documentation, which the families received from the Aleksinac OJT only eight and a half months after the accident, they “found incredible information” – that the “Soko” mine was operating without a work permit. The republican inspector for mining is t

ek determined after the accident that pit excavations had been going on for 14 months without such a permit, he specified.

The lawyer of the families of the victims said then that one of the key problems in this mine, primarily due to a lack of material resources, was the outdated method of pit excavation, with the supply of oxygen through a separate ventilation system that is turned off when sparking starts due to the presence of ammonia.

At the time of the accident, for this reason, the oxygen supply was turned off, and if it hadn’t been, sparks would have started and an explosion would have occurred, in which everyone who was in the pit would have died, he said.

According to him, the Republic’s mining inspector recommended that mining be carried out in the “Soko” mine using the more modern, “Czech method”, which involves digging in layers, from top to bottom, and ensures a better supply of oxygen, and is safer for the miners.

The miners’ lungs have been damaged, they are under medication, and they don’t even have spa treatment

“The testimonies of some of the surviving miners were very traumatic. It was shocking to listen to the miner who said that his comrades died right next to him… Many of them suffered from lung damage, many of them are under medication. I expected much more from their union, to at least provide them with spa treatment, but the union failed. Like most unions in this country,” says lawyer Stojanović.

“Days before the accident there was a smell of rotten eggs”

The families of the dead miners told Danas after the accident that their husbands and fathers warned that there was mud, methane and water in that part of the pit, and that “it is a matter of when the accident will happen”.

Some of the surviving miners added that days before the accident, they felt the “smell of rotten eggs”, and that there was an increased concentration of dimethyl sulfide, which was maintained on the skin and eyes, which is why they sought medical help.

The authorities did not respond to the warnings, and they had to go down into the pit, they said

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