No initial indication of poison in body of Turkey's late president

No initial indication of poison in body of Turkey's late president

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
No initial indication of poison in body of Turkeys late president

The late President Turgut Özal (inset) has laid to rest again in an Istanbul tomb after his body was exhumed for an autopsy after claims of murder. DAILY NEWS photo, Emrah GÜREL

There is no current indication that late President Turgut Özal was poisoned to death, the head of the Forensic Medicine Institute said Nov. 2, rejecting a report that the lethal chemical “strychnine creatine” had been found in his exhumed body.

An autopsy report on Özal’s body, which was recently exhumed, has yet to be finished, Forensic Medicine Institute head Haluk İnce said, dismissing claims that a highly lethal poison, “strychnine creatine,” had been found, indicating that the former head of state had been poisoned. The claim was reportedly based on an autopsy report conducted on Özal’s body.

İnce, however, said the toxic substance reported was not found in the autopsy and that the institute had yet to finalize the report. “The public should not pay attention to such stories,” İnce said.

“The report is not even finished yet. Our work continues. We have several results that are out, but we are in the process of confirming thousands of results through repeated procedures. We haven’t sent anyone any reports yet,” İnce told reporters in the southern province of Antalya.



Turgut Özal.

“We do not know how that story was formed,” İnce said. “We did not find the substance claimed to have been found. We are not the source of the story.”

Despite the denial, Mustafa Elitaş, the deputy parliamentary group leader of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), was not satisfied.

“[They] say, ‘There is no sign of the poison mentioned in the story,’ but that does not mean that there is nothing,” Elitaş told reporters Nov. 2 in Parliament, adding that the ongoing Ergenekon coup probe should be deepened if it is proven that Özal was murdered.

But a former head of the Forensic Medicine Institute, Oğuz Polat, said a substance called strychnine creatine did not even exist.

“There is no such substance. Strychnine exists. But if Özal was poisoned with that, his death would have been different,” Polat told daily Radikal.

Özal’s son Ahmet Özal said the denied report was not a surprise for him.

“Beginning with the assassination of Uğur Mumcu [a journalist from daily Cumhuriyet] in 1993 until 1995, those were dark years for Turkey. All these murders, in my opinion, were committed according to the same scenario,” Ahmet Özal told NTV.

The son also said he had not had a chance to talk to the officials from the Forensic Medicine Institute but added that the final report on the late president’s autopsy was expected to be released in mid-December.

Özal, Turkey’s eighth president, died on April 17, 1993 – officially of a heart attack – in his office in Ankara. Doubts about the cause of Özal’s death, however, were never addressed because no autopsy was performed following his passing. His widow, Semra Özal, and Ahmet Özal have claimed that he was assassinated by heavy metal poisoning.

Prosecutors reopened the case after Turkey’s State Audit Board (DDK) ruled Özal’s death “suspicious” and said it should be investigated.