Turkish commander dismissed from post after food poisoning in Manisa barrack
MANİSAA brigade commander was dismissed from his post on June 23 after a food poisoning incident in a military barrack in the western province of Manisa.
Brigade Commander Colonel Şefik Güvenç was dismissed from his post upon the orders of Defense Minister Fikri Işık, sources from the ministry told state-run Anadolu Agency.
After the order, Güvenç was assigned to the Turkish Land Forces Training and Doctrine Command School (EDOK) in the capital Ankara.
Some 731 soldiers were hospitalized late on June 17 after being affected by a suspected food poisoning at the Manisa First Infantry Training Brigade Command.
Speaking about the incident, Işık said all possible reasons behind the hospitalization of soldiers are being investigated.
“We are looking into all possibilities, including sabotage claims. We are not excluding any possibilities,” Işık told private broadcaster NTV on June 23, adding that four people from an inspection committee were carrying out examinations.
“As the Defense Ministry, we have launched an administrative review and investigation into the military personnel who may be at fault,” he said.
Health Minister Recep Akdağ also commented on the issue, saying they could “not say whether the incident occurred deliberately or not for now.”
Akdağ referred to a similar incident that took place on May 23, when more than 1,000 soldiers were affected by a similar infection at the same military barrack, with one soldier succumbing to the effects of the poisoning.
“The May 23 incident was certainly a result of food poisoning. The examinations regarding the June 17 incident are ongoing. Over 2,000 soldiers have been interviewed and the lab results will be announced after Eid al-Fitr,” he said on June 23.
On June 22, the number of people jailed over the June 17 incident rose to 10 with the court ruling for the arrest of four more suspects. The purchasing manager of Rota Yemekçilik catering firm, which was the supplier for the military barracks, was also among those arrested.
Some 15 out of 23 suspects, of whom six were officers and noncommissioned officers, were released on June 22 after their testimonies were taken as part of an investigation carried out by the Manisa Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office.
Of the eight suspects referred to court, purchasing manager Mustafa Aksoy, the head cook, a food engineer and an employee of the company were arrested while four others were released on condition of judicial control.
A total of 48 people, of whom six were soldiers, were detained since the beginning of the investigations.
Out of the 25 suspects, 16 were released on June 22 and nine were referred to court. Six suspects, including the company’s General Manager Ahmet Türkmen, its Manisa representative, and four cooks were arrested on the same day.
Meanwhile, cook Ebubekir Erten from Rota Yemekçilik claimed that the poisoning of the soldiers may have been because of the water.
“I wasn’t able to drink the water at the military barrack. Some of the soldiers said the water was dirty and blurry and that it smelled like sewage,” Erten said in his testimony on June 21.
Saying he prepared the meal on May 23, Erten accused the food engineer of neglect.
“He wasn’t with us until the end of our duty on that night. Normally food engineers have to be with us at all stages of the cooking process,” he added.