24 detained in food poisoning case at Turkish military barracks

24 detained in food poisoning case at Turkish military barracks

24 detained in food poisoning case at Turkish military barracks

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The number of detainees involved in a food poisoning case at a military barracks in the western province of Manisa has increased from 21 to 24, the local governor told private broadcaster CNN Türk on June 19.

Some 17 soldiers were still being treated in hospitals but none had a life threatening condition, Manisa Governor Mustafa Hakan Günveçer said. “The health situations of all of them are pretty good. They will most likely be discharged from hospital,” he said.

A total of 731 soldiers were hospitalized late on June 17 after being affected by food poisoning at the Manisa First Infantry Training Brigade Command, a prosecutor said on June 18. Police later have detained 21 employees of the catering company, including executives, providing food services at the military barracks. Officials later announced that the contract of the catering firm had been cancelled following the incident. 

This is the second such incident after more than 1,000 soldiers were affected by a similar infection at the same military barracks on May 23, resulting in the death of one soldier. But, the Manisa Governor on June 19 said the last food poisoning incident was not related to the previous case. 

“The two incidents have some things in common, but this is not the continuation of the infection on May 23. All of the inquiries after May 23 were undertaken and reported, but unfortunately we experienced the May 16, 17 and 18 incidents,” Günveçer told CNN Türk. 

Meanwhile, main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) Manisa lawmaker Tur Yıldız Biçer claimed that authorities launched disciplinary actions against infected soldiers who reacted against the incident. Saying that the hospitals were not handing the analysis results to prevent them from filing a criminal complaint, Biçer added: “The soldiers are pressured and their families are being forced to stay silent so their military services are not at risk.”

Additionally, the Ankara-based catering firm released a statement on June 18 about the incident, saying that it was “saddening” that they were accused before the results came out.

“There is no scientific report that puts forward the responsibility of a party. It is saddening that the company is subject to so much pressure and allegations even though lab reports have not come out yet,” Rota Yemekçilik A.Ş. company said. 

Meanwhile, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) group deputy chairman Erkan Akçay on June 18 inquired in the parliament’s general assembly if it was only the Manisa contract of the catering firm that was cancelled, or if its other contracts were cancelled as well. “This firm is providing catering services for many military establishments. The incident is very serious, it is not a matter that we should let slide. Our soldiers are under the responsibility of our state and military,”Akçay said.  

Following a previous food poisoning incident at the Manisa military barracks, CHP deputies Özgür Özel, Mazlum Nurlu and Tur Yıldız Biçer brought up the issue twice to the parliament’s agenda on May 30 and June 13. But each time, the motions submitted by the CHP was denied by the deputies of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) as well as the MHP. 

On June 18, CHP deputy Mazlum Nurlu said the party would submit a motion again to the parliament to investigate the case. 

“The AKP deputies who denied the motion are responsible for the food poisoning cases. We will submit a new motion for a commission to be established to research the food poisoning of the soldiers and expose the political connections of the firms who won the tenders,” she said.