Turkish Forensic Council Rebuts Claims Ozal Was PoisonedCrime | November 2, 2012, Friday // 13:52| views
Halil Turgut Ozal died on April 17, 1993, of a suspicious heart attack while still in office. File photo
The Director of the Turkish Justice Ministry's Forensic Medicine Council has denied allegations in a local newspaper that the analysis of the samples taken during the exhumation of ex-President Turgut Ozal revealed traces of poison.
The news was reported Friday by the Bulgarian news agency BTA.
Turgut Ozal's remains were exhumed on October 2, 2012, on the order of the Prosecutor's Office in Ankara, on grounds his death remains suspicious.
Halil Turgut Ozal (October 13, 1927 – April 17, 1993) was Prime Minister of Turkey (1983–1989) and President of Turkey (1989–1993). As Prime Minister, he transformed the economy of Turkey by paving the way for the privatization of many state enterprises.
Ozal died on April 17, 1993, of a suspicious heart attack while still in office, leading some to believe in an assassination plot. His wife Semra Ozal has claimed for years he was poisoned by lemonade and she questioned the lack of an autopsy.
Curiously enough, the Turkish President died after a reception at the Bulgarian Embassy in Ankara, held on April 16, one day before him passing away. He, allegedly, drank the lemonade precisely at that reception.
The reception was held in honor of the current Bulgarian Culture Minister, Vezhdi Rashidov. Rashidov, who is an ethnic Bulgarian Turk, is a prominent sculptor.
The Turkish paper Bogun claimed earlier the autopsy yielded a high level of toxic agent strychnine in the President's remains.
Haluk Ince, from the Forensic Medicine Council, is quoted saying, he had no idea where that information came from but stressed experts had found no traces of strychnine in the samples and the final report hadn't been completed yet.
During the Communist regime, Ozal was known as a strong defender of Bulgarian ethnic Turks, who were hunted by the government for refusing to change their Muslim names with Christian ones during the so-called "Revival Process."
He adopted Bulgarian ethnic Turkish weightlifting champion Naim Suleimanoglou after the latter defected to Turkey.
The blood samples taken to determine his cause of death were lost or disposed of. Ozal sought to create a Turkic union, and had obtained the commitment of several presidents.
His wife Semra alleged that the perpetrator might have wanted to foil the plan.
On June 18, 1988, he survived an assassination attempt during the party congress. One bullet wounded his finger while another bullet missed his head. The assassin, Kartal Demirag, was captured and sentenced to life imprisonment but pardoned by Ozal in 1992.
In late 2008, Demirag was retried by the Ankara 11th Heavy Penal Court and sentenced to twenty years in prison.