Ex-ministers speak against possibility of covering up facts of Özal's death
Claims that the findings of poisonous substances in late President Turgut Özal's remains may be distorted or hidden have drawn reactions from former ministers, who called on the Council of Forensic Medicine (ATK) to prepare an autopsy report that includes all the details concerning Özal's death.

The ministers were in office during Özal's term as prime minister or president.

"The conscience of the people will not condone the covering up of facts in the [ATK] report. I was the first to say there was negligence and suspicions with regard to Özal's death. But people did not trust me when I said it," stated former Health Minister Halil Şıvgın.

Claims emerged recently that a report to be prepared about Özal's autopsy by the ATK will state that poisonous substances were discovered in the late president's remains, but the discovery does not mean that he had been poisoned.

An investigation into Özal's suspicious death began earlier this year after a number of witnesses spoke of unusual circumstances on the day of the death of the former president, who was reported to have suffered a heart attack. The late president's remains were exhumed for toxicological testing in October.

In late November, sources from the ATK said the findings of forensic tests had detected four different types of poisonous substances in the late president's remains. The ATK has not finalized a report about its findings, and a report is scheduled to be released at the end of this month.

Özal, the eighth president of the Turkish Republic, died of heart failure in April 1993 at an Ankara hospital at the age of 65 while serving in office.

Among the poisonous substances found in Özal's remains were dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), which is commonly used as an insecticide and was banned in Turkey in 1980, and dichlorodiphenyldichloroethylene (DDE), which causes heavy damage to the liver after being absorbed by the body.

However, a report published by the Sabah daily on Saturday stated that the ATK is planning to note in its report that poisonous substances were discovered in Özal's remains, but the council did not conclude that the late president's death was caused by poison.

Şıvgın said facts related to the late president's death should be shared with the people. "The report [containing the facts] should be handed over to the prosecutor's office [overseeing the investigation into Özal's death]. If they hide the facts, then the people will ask about them one day. We will do anything necessary for the facts not to be covered up," he stated.

According to Hasan Celal Güzel, a former minister of education, Özal's remains should be taken to a foreign country for more detailed toxicology testing so that the results will be more objective and trustworthy. "Those who say Özal was not poisoned do not say it because they are sure of it. They base their claims on assumptions. The investigation should keep going, and all pieces of evidence and suspicion should be evaluated," Güzel noted.

Former Education Minister Vehbi Dinçerler said a parliamentary commission should be set up to investigate the death of the late president. He also said prosecutors should investigate a failed assassination attempt against Özal in 1988.

Özal survived an assassination attempt during the Motherland Party's (ANAP/ANAVATAN) congress on June 18, 1988. One bullet wounded his finger, while another bullet missed his head. The assassin, Kartal Demirağ, was immediately captured and sentenced to life in prison but was later pardoned.

(Cihan/Today's Zaman) CİHAN
Last Modified: 2012-12-10 20:00:01
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