German fire victims’ bodies repatriated to Turkey
AA PhotoThe bodies of eight Turks who perished in a fire outside Stuttgart on March 10 were repatriated to Turkey today following a funeral for the victims in Germany.
“The pain is not only the Özcan family’s pain. It is the pain of 76 million [Turkey’s current population]. May God rest their souls,” Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ said after funeral prayers for the victims, a mother and seven of her children, at a local mosque.
The victims’ bodies were brought to Turkey after the funeral in a private plane carrying Bozdağ, Forestry and Water Affairs Minister Veysel Eroğlu and bereaved relatives. The bodies are expected to be buried in the inner Aegean province of Afyonkarahisar today following a second autopsy in Istanbul.
Reports identified the deceased as Nazlı Özcan Soykan, 40, Hatice Soykan, 17, Yılmaz Soykan, 14, Abdülkadir Soykan, 8, İzzet Soykan, 7, Yasin Soykan, 6, Ahmet Soykan, 3, and 6-month-old Murat Soykan. The father was reportedly not at home when the fire broke out, while three other family members – grandmother Hatice Özcan, a 7-year-old and an uncle, Seyfettin Soykan – were rescued by firefighters.
Eroğlu and Bozdağ, who initially inspected the building in the Stuttgart suburb of Backnang where the fire occurred, carried the victims’ coffins during the funeral.
“We hope this is not sabotage or a racist attack. We expect everything to be investigated in depth and the truth to be revealed,” Bozdağ said.
Bozdağ, who offered Turkey’s help to German authorities in investigating the event, expressed his support to Turks living in Germany. “We are always with you. We will continue to look after you,” he said.
German police announced March 11 that there was no sign that arson motivated by xenophobia was behind the fire, in a statement that was corroborated by Bozdağ. “Initial data indicates there is no sign of sabotage,” Bozdağ said.
Investigator Ralf Michelfelder said the cause of the blaze appeared to be the building’s electrical system. “A technical defect in the building is the most probable cause.”
Bozdağ attended the ceremony on behalf of President Abdullah Gül, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as well as the Turkish people. Nils Schmidt, Baden-Württemberg’s finance and economy minister, also attended the funeral.