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Cable Car Collapse in Antalya: 5 People Arrested Including Mayor of Kepez

On April 12th, 2024, news broke that an accident occurred in a cable car in Tünektepe, Antalya. Slowly, as news began getting released, it was understood that a bolt broke and caused a pole to crash into a wagon of the cable car. With the destruction of the wagon’s floor, the people inside, fell. One person was killed, 10 were injured, and 184 people were trapped inside other wagons of the cable car. Ever since the incident, there has been a lot of misinformation and debate online. Certainty about the cause of the situation was not fully understood for several days to follow. What caused even more controversy, though, was one of the suspects for the investigation.

So far, the arrest that has caused the most conversation out of all 5 arrests made, is the arrest of the newly-elected mayor of Kepez, Mesut Kocagöz. In the latest elections held on March 31st, Mesut Kocagöz was the mayoral candidate for CHP (Republican People’s Party), and he won with a difference of 6% against his opponent. CHP had not won in Kepez for many years. The region was usually won by Ak Parti (Justice and Development Party), which Kocagöz belonged to for a long time, before he joined CHP. Mesut Kocaköz used to be deputy mayor in Kepez between 2004 and 2014, as a part of AK Parti. After 2014, when he stopped his duties as Deputy Mayor, he was a part of the city council of Antalya for 4 years. What actually tied Kocaköz to the cable car incident was his affiliation with the company who built the cable car, ANET. In 2019, he became the president of ANET. He remained in this position for 4 years until he resigned in late November of 2023. After the incident, he was arrested.

CHP had written a letter opposing Mesut Kocagöz’s arrest and asking for a new trial, but the request has been denied. Members of CHP have also defended Mesut Kocagöz. Member of the Turkish Parliament and representative of CHP Ali Mahrir Başarır has stated that Kocagöz’s “only fault is winning over Kepez with 50% for the first time in 30 years”. President of CHP Özgür Özel has said that he is following the legal situation closely. Their main defense has been that the last mandatory maintenance period for the cable car was after Kocagöz resigned.

On the other hand, there are many arguments supporting his arrest. Most of the arguments rely heavily on the claim that the mandatory maintenance for the cable car should have lasted around 3 months while ANET only did maintenance for 20 to 30 days. Some argue that Mesut Kocagöz actually stopped performing his duties as president of ANET in February of this year, which would make him more responsible for the situation. It is also said that some mandatory evaluations on the mechanics of the cable car have not been adequately handled since 2017, which again puts the blame on Kocagöz. Only the argument about his resignation time has been addressed by CHP so far.

Although the situation is fairly vague at the moment, many seem to think Kocagöz is guilty, and it seems like he is going to remain in jail. Meanwhile, the injured people are still in the hospital, and many of the people who were trapped inside the cable car for just around 23 hours report experiencing major trauma. Whomever the responsibility lies upon is undecided, but that still does not change the disastrous outcome.

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