Body of Turkish ex-leader shows signs of poisoning: paper

Mon Nov 26, 2012 9:07am EST
 

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - An autopsy on the exhumed body of Turkey's late President Turgut Ozal, who led the country out of military rule in the 1980s, has found evidence of poisoning, a newspaper reported on Monday.

There had long been rumors that Ozal, who died of heart failure in 1993 aged 65, was murdered by militants of the "deep state" - a shadowy nationalist strain within the Turkish establishment of the day. Ozal had angered some with his efforts to end a Kurdish insurgency and survived an assassination bid in 1988.

His body, dug up last month on the orders of prosecutors investigating suspicions of foul play in his death, contained the banned insecticide DDT and the related compound DDE at 10 times the normal level, Today's Zaman cited sources from the state Forensic Medicine Institute (ATK) as saying.

"Ozal was most likely poisoned with four separate substances," the paper reported the sources as saying, also naming the toxic metal cadmium and the radioactive elements americium and polonium as substances found in Ozal's remains.

Forensic institute officials declined to comment.

Suleyman Demirel, who followed Ozal as president, dismissed such allegations. "I don't agree with any of the allegations that Turgut Ozal was murdered," state-run Anatolian news agency reported Demirel as telling reporters.

Demirel, prime minister when Ozal died and subsequently president until 2000, did not elaborate.

Ozal, whose economic reforms easing the grip of the state on business helped shape modern Turkey, was in poor health before his death. After undergoing a triple heart bypass operation in the United States in 1987, he kept up a grueling schedule and remained overweight until he died.

His moves to end a Kurdish insurgency and create a Turkic union with central Asian states have been cited as motives for would-be enemies in "deep state", in which security establishment figures and criminal elements colluded.   Continued...

 
File photo of presidential honour guard carrying coffin of President Turgut Ozal as Turkish generals with drawn swords accompany them during a funeral procession in Ankara April 21, 1993.