Remains of Turgut Özal reinterred

Remains of Turgut Özal reinterred

ISTANBUL - Anatolia News Agency
Remains of Turgut Özal reinterred

A police squad carries the coffin that contains the remains of Turgut Özal. Daily News photo

Following their exhumation for an autopsy 19 years after his death, the remains of former President Turgut Özal were reinterred with a state and religious funeral on Oct. 5.

Özal was reinterred at his mausoleum in Topkapı in central Istanbul. Özal’s widow Semra, his son Ahmet and daughter Zeynep, EU Minister Egemen Bağış, Gen. Yalçın Ataman, Istanbul Governor Hüseyin Avni Mutlu and members of Özal’s family attended the ceremony.

Turgut Özal, Turkey’s eighth president, was believed to have died of a heart attack on April 17, 1993 in his office in Ankara, but Turkey’s State Audit Board (DDK) ruled Özal’s death “suspicious” and said it should be investigated, in a report released June 13.

Özal’s son Ahmet Özal said his father’s brain, liver and body in general had kept their shape after 19 years, according to the family’s lawyer and doctor, who attended the autopsy. “This is miraculous, but still an autopsy held 19 years after a person’s death cannot be conducted properly; I give it 50 percent chance of discovering the truth,” Ahmet Özal said.

Asked his opinion about the true cause of his father’s death, Özal said: “I know that it was a natural death. The grave was opened by the decision of the prosecutor. We [have not yet] received any information from the Forensic Medicine Institution, except that other tissues, apart from strands of hair, were obtained, and that [some parts of Özal’s body] were less decomposed than would have been expected after 20 years,” Özal said.

“This investigation will make way for the progress of democracy in Turkey, as Özal once dreamed,” Bağış said, speaking at the ceremony. “It is being conducted in the belief that we have entered a period in which nothing will be kept secret in Turkey, and we hope it will be illuminating for our country. I am giving my condolences to our nation. [I wish that] Özal could have rested peacefully in his grave without such an intervention, but this did not happen. I believe that after the claims about his death are examined, he will be left to his eternal sleep.”