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“The exploitation of coal was more important to them than the lives of the miners”: The lawyer expects an indictment for “Soko”

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The collection of evidence related to the accident in the “Soko” mine, which occurred on April 1, 2022, in which eight miners died, has been completed, the lawyer of their families, Bratislav Stojanović, said, stressing that he expects an indictment to be filed.

At the press conference in Aleksinac, Stojanović recalled that the Higher Public Prosecutor’s Office accepted his objection to the dismissal of the criminal complaint filed by the Ministry of Mining and Energy against 14 persons responsible for the accident in the “Soko” mine.

Stojanović said that a total of 24 miners who were eyewitnesses to the accident were interrogated, and that today the last miner who suffered severe life-threatening injuries in the accident, lost his sight and had severe brain damage was interrogated.

“He did not receive any financial aid nor did anyone visit him”, pointed out the lawyer of the families of the miners who died, assessing that this example shows that the exploitation of coal was more important to JP “Resavica” than the safety of the workers. That miner, as he explained, received financial assistance by other fellow miners raising money.

He also said that on the critical night, duty engineer Milan Savić did not react, regardless of the fact that due to the increase in methane concentration, as he said, four to five times all the machines that were supplied with electricity from the transformer station were turned off.

“They continued to turn on and operate those machines.” The highlight of it all is that the dispatcher ordered the electrician to go and turn on the electricity manually. This shows that he was given the task of carrying out exploitation,” said Stojanović.

He explained that the machines automatically turn off when the concentration of methane exceeds one percent, so that the ignition of that gas does not happen and the tragedy of November 1989 is not repeated.

“The transformer and the supply to the main fan are automatically switched off, and thus no fire occurred.” He should have evacuated them, if he had done that, the workers would be alive today,” said the lawyer representing their families.

He also said that there is material evidence, that is, a recording of how the concentration of methane developed from the beginning of work in the third shift to a concentration of 100 percent.

“From 4 a.m. to 4:25 a.m., they had 25 to 30 minutes to react and evacuate the workers.” It was obvious that they were interested in the exploitation of ore, they did not take into account the workers”, repeated Stojanović.

Stojanović said that he rightfully expects the Higher Public Prosecutor’s Office to file an indictment against the responsible persons, and emphasized that otherwise he has the procedural right to lodge an objection once again.

He reminded that in August, an indictment for commercial offense was brought before the Commercial Court in Kragjevac against the former and current v. d. the director of JP “Resavica”, which he welcomes, but that this is a criminal offense that is not a commercial offense and the determination of guilt for the accident that occurred.

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