Mystery still surrounds ex-president's death

The former president's body was exhumed this fall in an attempt to end rumours.

By Alakbar Raufoglu for SES Türkiye -- 24/12/12

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The Ankara prosecutor's office will review the results of the autopsy of former President Turgut Ozal, after poisons were found in his body during an autopsy 19 years after his death.

The Council of Forensic Medicine this month did not rule that the former president, who led the country out of military rule in the 1980s, was poisoned. The panel decided that traces of poisons in his body could be biological by-products of decay rather than evidence of a crime.

The findings bring Turkey no closer toward solving the mystery of Ozal's April 17th 1993 death. He died in Ankara at age 65, reportedly of a heart attack.

Family members have long believed that Ozal, an ethnic Kurd who was seeking a negotiated solution to the bloody conflict with Kurdish separatists in the southeast when he died, was poisoned.

Ozal had angered some with his efforts to end a Kurdish insurgency and survived an assassination bid in 1988. Several analysts, including conspiracy theorists, speculated that the president was murdered by militants of the "deep state" -- a shadowy group within the Turkish establishment of the day.

The autopsy was ordered by a judge hearing testimony in the Ergenekon investigations because the ruling AKP made many references to Ozal's death, said Akın Unver, a Turkish scholar and Ertegun lecturer of near Eastern studies at Princeton University. The autopsy was "to settle once and for all the conspiracy" surrounding the former president's death.

Ankara chief prosecutor carried out the investigation in October and had Ozal's body exhumed. The forensics institution also took several samples from the grave for further analysis, but did not reach any conclusions.

But Haluk Ince, chairman of forensics institution, told reporters that he could not completely deny the allegations related to the poisoning of the eighth Turkish president.

Despite the findings of the autopsy, suspicions about the deaths of several public figures in the early 1990s are likely to persist.

Burhan Kuzu, AKP deputy, and head of the Constitutional Conciliation Commission, said the alleged activities of the Gendarmerie Intelligence and Anti-Terrorism Unit (JITEM) and former PKK informants in early 1990s should be fully investigated, including political assassinations, torture, emptying villages and other violent counter-terrorism activities.

"We're talking about the years of deep state in 1990s, which also brought to the loss of eight to 10 public leaders, including death of President Ozal, two top Army generals, road accident death of political figure Adnan Kahveci … I'm not questioning the quietus and not blaming anyone, but the fact is that all these happened during that period," he told SES Türkiye.

Faik Tunay, CHP MP, said that the inconclusive results had not allayed their suspicions over Ozal's death.

"Unfortunately, the smokescreens on Ozal's death still exist," he told SES Türkiye, adding that forensics' reports over the investigation has "caused rather confusions."

"On one side, the forensics officials mentioned that there is poison in Ozal's body, but whether he died or not because of poison, could not be decided on by consensus … Maybe they just shouldn't do any autopsy on Ozal's body. Now, people don't know what to think about it," he said.


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  • Anonymous about 2 years

    Everybody will die one day; why do some people insistently look for a secret behind it?

  • Anonymous about 2 years

    My answer to the claims about Turgut Ozal’s death is that the state has done what is necessary. Ahmet Ozal might be wanting hush money from the discretionary fund in exchange of his statements or the possibility of a good amount of compensation from the state might be whetting his appetite. But he’ll be put in his place. Joe Public

  • Anonymous about 2 years

    I confess, I killed him. He was dragging the country to its doom. That is why I did it. I added appetite stimulant to his dinners which made him eat more and more. His wife, Semra Ozal and his sons, his daughter and even his daughter’s gigolo ate. I destroyed him by means of eating. Well, I confessed it at last. What a relief!

Name: Anonymous - Have your comments posted immediately!

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