Turkey: Ex-president's death suspicious

2012-06-13 21:02

Ankara - The 1993 death of Turkey's then-president Turgut Ozal is suspicious and should be investigated, a report by the presidential palace said on Wednesday.

The report said there has been no satisfactory investigation into allegations by some family members and lawmakers that Ozal, whose pro-Western policies helped modernise Turkey and gave the US-led coalition a strategic ally during the Persian Gulf War, might have been poisoned.

The report by the state auditing board, which is under the direct supervision of President Abdullah Gul, cautioned that most of the allegations were "intangible", but suggested an autopsy and a hair sample test could confirm for certain the cause of death. It said the results of the president's blood tests, as well as his blood samples, were missing.

Doctors at the time said Ozal, who underwent triple bypass surgery in 1987, died of heart failure on 17 April 1993.

But, the president's wife, Semra Ozal, has claimed she received a note in 1998 that said her husband was poisoned and has told several television stations that Ozal died a day after drinking lemonade at a reception in Ankara. The report said Ozal apparently consumed fresh orange juice but not lemonade at the event.

The report said the burial of the president without an autopsy has also fuelled concerns over his death. It cited inconsistent statements by officials about how and when his health deteriorated.

Conflicting statements and the questions over the fate of the blood tests showed that "the death of late Turgut Ozal was still a mystery today", said the report.

Ozal, who is of Kurdish origin, was allegedly preparing to announce a plan to reconcile with the Kurdish minority as a war by Kurdish rebels for autonomy in the largely Kurdish southeast reached its peak.