BBC Turkey video
BBC Turkey

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has accused a BBC Turkey reporter of hiring two actors to pose as relatives of dead Soma miners.

A 59-second clip, shot by BBC Turkish journalist Rengin Arslan, showed two veiled women at the cemetery in Soma, claiming that they previously voted for Erdogan's ruling AK Party but after the Soma mine disaster, which killed 301 people, they changed their minds.

One woman said that in Soma people voted AK "out of fear" and received bribes to do so.

At a party meeting following the BBC broadcast, Erdogan accused the women of faking their connection with the miners, and lying to the international press.

In a statement, BBC Turkey described the criticism as an "unfounded allegation" and stood by its video.

"BBC Turkey did not interview the women, we just filmed the two women while they were talking" the statement said. "We also have confirmation that they are miners' wives. For all these reasons, we stand behind the news reported."

BBC Turkey added that it did not report the women's names because they wanted to stay anonymous, and denounced the attacks on Arslan on social media.

Three more arrests ordered

Erdogan spoke after a court ordered the arrests of three more people, including the CEO and the general manager of the mine, as part of a probe into the disaster at Soma - the worst mining accident in Turkish history.

The arrests raised to eight the number of suspects facing charges of causing death by negligence.

"God willing, everyone will draw the necessary lessons from this disaster," Erdogan said. "We shall be more determined than ever to increase supervision and to take the necessary steps.

"No one will be able to cover up this painful incident. All criminal and administrative investigations will be carried out and we will be strictly monitoring them."

A prosecutor said a preliminary report indicates that coal had been smouldering for days before the disaster, prompting the roof to collapse and release toxic gases that spread inside the mine.

Erdogan has been criticised for his remarks after the disaster, specifically his comments that this sort of accident is "normal". He was forced to take refuge in a shop in Soma after furious relatives besieged him.