Suspicions remain on 21st anniversary of President Özal’s death

ISTANBUL (CIHAN)- The uncertainty surrounding the death of Turkey’s eighth president, Turgut Özal, who died in office on April 17, 1993 has still not been cleared up on the 21st anniversary of his death. There are still many suspicions the death of the former president.

The late President Özal, who left his mark on Turkish history with his exemplary personal and political character, is being commemorated with memorial services held in various parts of Turkey on the 21st anniversary of his death.

In October 2012, Özal’s grave was opened and his remains exhumed as part of a belated investigation launched by the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office after suspicions of poisoning were raised. The remains were taken to the Council of Forensic Medicine (ATK), where testing was done. It took two months for the ATK to release a controversial report in which it stated that it had found poisons in Özal’s remains, but that Özal didn’t die of poisoning. However, this report failed to satisfy the much of the Turkish public. Recently, the prosecutor’s office sent a statement to the ATK and demanded that it not destroy the samples taken from Özal’s exhumed body until they receive another order from the prosecutor’s office.

According to information obtained by Today’s Zaman, ATK officials had repeatedly said that Özal was poisoned from the first stage of the examinations, but later released a report with the opposite conclusion. While the first meeting of the ATK investigatory group — during which they discussed the possible cause of Özal’s death — was held with the participation of all group members, some members were not invited to subsequent meetings. It is claimed by some sources who spoke to Today’s Zaman that some group members even didn’t read the final autopsy report prepared by the ATK.

ontradictions have also been found in the ATK report. The sources also claimed that some toxins detected during the examination were ignored and were not mentioned in the report. Although the levels of some toxins were found to be very high, they were not mentioned on the grounds that there had been errors with some measurements.

The autopsy report, released by the ATK in December 2012, stated that the toxicology tests conducted on Özal’s internal organs and tissue confirmed the presence of poisonous substances but members of the council were unable to reach a unanimous conclusion to officially determine that these substances were the cause of Özal’s death.

However, media speculation before the release of the ATK’s report alleged that Özal’s body revealed traces of insecticides, pesticides and radioactive elements. The reports claimed that the ATK discovered dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), which is commonly used as an insecticide and was banned in Turkey in 1980, and dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (DDE), a DDT breakdown product which causes serious damage to the liver after being absorbed by the body, in the former president’s remains. Özal’s body also contained the chemical elements americium and polonium. According to the report, forensic experts said the former president’s body was weakened by these two radioactive chemical elements over a long period of time and with the addition of DDT his death was accelerated. Some have speculated that the DDT might have been deliberately added to Özal’s body via food or drink by unknown persons.

(CihanToday’s Zaman)