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“Ore was a priority, not people’s lives” – the lawyer expects indictments against those responsible in the “Soko” Mine

The mining engineer was given the task of exploiting the ore at all costs, and the life of the miners was not important at all, because if he had evacuated them, instead of asking them to continue working, they would be alive today, and their families would be happy – the lawyer points out. Bratislav Stojanović, who after all the testimony and evidence expects the Prosecutor’s Office to file an indictment against those responsible for the accident in the Soko mine.

The surviving miners have already testified that days before and on the night of the death of the miners in the “Soko” Mine, the concentration of methane had increased, and that the mining engineer on duty did not stop work and save them. The lawyer of the families of the deceased, Bratislav Stojanović, points out that today everyone was questioned and that the collection of evidence in the Basic Public Prosecutor’s Office in Aleksinac regarding the mining accident was completed.

Stojanović explained that there is material evidence that despite the shutdown of the machines for safety reasons and the high amount of methane in the pit, they continued to turn them on, even manually, instead of turning them off and evacuating the miners from the pit.

It is automatically turned off and on if a higher concentration of methane appears to prevent sparking and fire, as was the case in 1989 in the mine in Aleksinac and the ignition of methane, but it also prevents the supply of oxygen through that main ventilator. However, despite the fact that the electricity went out 4 to 5 times in a row, they turned it on again, and the highlight is that the dispatcher ordered the electrician on duty to go down into the pit and turn it on manually. This is our evidence and a well-founded position that the priority was the exploitation of ore, not the protection of workers’ lives – notes the lawyer.

The lawyer believes that it is clear that the mining engineer was given the task of carrying out exploitation at all costs, and that the life of the miners was not important at all, because if he had let his colleagues out of the pit after the first shutdown of the machines and the appearance of methane, they would be alive today and happy with their families and children.

There is material evidence of how the methane concentration developed from the start of work in the third shift to the moment when it was 100%. Between 4 am and 4:25 am, they had about 25 to 30 minutes for the engineer to respond and evacuate the workers. However, they hid all of this, they did not react, their interest was obviously in the exploitation of the ore, not the workers, and this is an example of the miner heard today – notes the lawyer.

New details regarding the accident that happened on April 1 last year, when 8 miners died and more were injured, were presented based on the testimony of 24 miners, including the most seriously injured person from the mining accident who spoke today, about whom he says that it is an example of negligence on the part of the authorities.

Today I heard something that is a really big problem for me, because it is about a severely injured miner who lost his sight, has severe brain damage, who needed time to recover after recovery in the “Toponica” psychiatric institution. Today, he did not remember the event and announced the incredible news that he did not receive any financial assistance from the management of JP Resavica, nor did anyone visit him. These are some facts that are indisputable, which prove the extent of the negligence of the owner, that is, JP Resavica during the execution of the works and that it was most important for them to exploit coal and ore as much as possible – concludes Stojanović.

That is why now, as he says, he justifiably and well-groundedly expects the Prosecutor’s Office of Aleksin to file an indictment against those responsible.

As for the indictment against certain persons from the criminal report, they can now reschedule the collection of some more evidence, everything now depends on the basic public prosecutor’s office, but from a legal point of view, all the procedural conditions for the indictment have been created – adds Stojanović.

He also says that the Prosecution accepted the proposal to hear all the witnesses, except for the former Minister of Mining, Zorana Mihajlović, and they did not receive any response to the request for the formation of an Inquiry Committee in the National Assembly, which requested that such mining accidents never happen again.

Let us remind you that the first indictment proposal was filed a few months ago – the Basic Public Prosecutor’s Office in Niš has reasonable suspicions that mining works were carried out without a permit in this mine, and that permit was not even available at the time of the tragedy.

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