Prosecutor: No sabotage in Afyon blast

Prosecutor: No sabotage in Afyon blast

ESKİŞEHİR - Doğan News Agency
Prosecutor: No sabotage in Afyon blast

A huge explosion and subsequent fire at an ammunition depot in Afyonkarahisar left 25 soldiers dead on Sept 5, 2012. AP photo

Military prosecutors have announced that there was no sign of sabotage in a Sept. 5 blast at a military depot in the western province of Afyonkarahisar that killed 25 Turkish soldiers following the arrest of a major on charges of negligence in the incident.

“No evidence suggesting that the blast occurred due to terror or sabotage could be found,” the Eskişehir Military Prosecutor’s Office said in a statement Sept. 14.

Earlier in the day, a military court arrested Maj. Ali Duran, commander of the company in charge of the depot where the explosion occurred, and released Col. Veysel Özbay, commander of the fourth munitions unit in Afyonkarahisar, and Lt. Tarık Aydın pending trial.

In their testimonies, each officer claimed 248 tons of hand grenades and 360 tons of 175-milimeter shells were stacked in two armories. The officers said they had been trying to fit five armories’ worth of ammunition into two armories.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan stated during his visit to Ukraine that a private soldier who handled a grenade out of curiosity might have caused the armory blast.

“There are some thoughts [about the cause of the explosion.] Some suggest that a grenade handled out of curiosity caused the explosion, while others thought that the grenades imported from Germany led to the incident. With the detonation of one grenade a series of successive explosions can occur. Within the light of their experiences and technical examinations, the Chief of General Staff and his teams reached that point,” Erdoğan said.

Erdoğan’s statement his claim that the Afyon blast was an attempt at sabotage, the CHP leader Kılıçdaroğlu said, before the written statement by the prosecutors suggesting otherwise.
“I said it was sabotage. If it’s sabotage, the perpetrator is the soldier who pulled the pin. If you remove the word ‘curiosity’ from Erdoğan’s statement, then you’ll see the sabotage,” Kılıçdaroğlu said in an interview with AHaber news channel Sept. 14.

“They want to close the file. They have already said it was an accident even before the report is completed. Just a second, please, it’s not that easy,” Kılıçdaroğlu said, accusing the government of trying to make the blast look like an accident.

In the meantime, forensic reports conducted on the 25 victims killed in the blasts have been completed after each body was identified, CNNTürk reported. The bodies of the fallen soldiers were expected to be released to their families later in the day.

When asked whether the soldiers in the depot were experienced or not, Erdoğan said that during Işık Koşaner’s term as chief of General Staff, small stores were put into use within the bigger ones. “A depot from [the northwestern province of Balıkesir’s] Susurluk district was moving there. Working at night is normally forbidden, but they carried out working under the light of a truck’s lamp since only a few boxes remained. They should not have kept on working,” Erdoğan said.

“Some columnists say [Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel] flatters the government and he is not skilful. Such approaches are very saucy. During my 10 year term in office as a prime minister we have never made arbitrary appointments. If Koşaner had not resigned, Özel would not be in that position now. Koşaner and other generals resigned from their posts and we were required to assign Özel as the Chief of General Staff, since he was the only senior officer remaining. He has worked for the Turkish Armed Forces for 45 years,” Erdoğan said, when asked why he thought a smear campaign was being carried out against Özel.

“Some say ‘the prime minister and the ruling party’s yes-men are not appropriate in that position.’ How can we explain such an expression? This army is ours. They are fighting against terrorism, and they are demoralized by such insults,” Erdoğan said.