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September 19, 2012, Wednesday

Traces of assassinations: from Özal to Erdoğan

Something important has developed recently in the ongoing investigation into the death of eighth President Turgut Özal, who died on April 17, 1993.

The Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office has decided to run an autopsy following the exhumation of Özal’s body. Forensics will perform a thorough examination into the cause of Özal’s death.

Undoubtedly, President Abdullah Gül has played a key role in the making of this decision, taken seven months before the statute of limitations expires on this matter. Gül asked the State Audit Institution (DDK) to run an investigation into this matter. The course of the investigation changed when the DDK’s report presenting Özal’s death as suspicious was published on June 4, 2012.

The DDK report underlined two major points.

First, the report referred to negligence in respect to Özal’s health and safety. The report said: “The lack of any study or analyses or other similar actions, including a site investigation or autopsy, in an attempt to determine the cause of death is something that can be explained only as complete negligence. As a result, neither the doctors nor the family members, judicial institutions or other public agencies asked for an autopsy in an effort to identify the cause of death.” What this suggests is strikingly grave.

Second, the report identifies some serious problems in respect to the adequacy of the health services offered at the presidential palace for President Özal. The report says: “Despite the fact that the medical history of Turgut Özal and his hectic travel program and arrangements were known about, there were inadequate medical services and personnel, equipped ambulances and emergency tools; this is not explicable or tolerable.”

How should we explain the lack of wisdom or prudence on the part of the doctors, the family members, the judicial institutions and other state officials? What was behind the complete negligence whereby a president is left to die in a presidential palace in an emergency? If this is a plot or conspiracy, who are the conspirers or organizers within the state?

These matters were discussed on a television show aired on the Beyaz TV station last week with Halil Şıvgın, who served as minister of health in the Özal-led government. He said in the program that attempts to build a fully equipped room where extensive medical services would be provided in the presidential palace were undermined by retired Gen. Kemal Yamak, who was serving as secretary-general at the presidency back then. He also noted that a fully equipped ambulance that he sent to the presidential palace was recalled upon instruction of Prime Minister Süleyman Demirel. He expressed resentment towards Demirel. “Demirel told me that as prime minister, he was responsible for the health of the president; is this responsible act?” Last week, Halil Şıvgın spoke to Aksiyon, a weekly news magazine, and said: “Somebody prevented every attempt that would have saved Özal. They were manipulated. Who were they? Kemal Yamak, Aslan Güner, Hasan Iğsız, Kaya Toperi… Those who have organized these things in the presidential palace… The ignorance and negligence of those people who served in the palace should be examined. Demirel, the then prime minister, should be held accountable for this.”

Resolving Özal’s death will also shed light on unresolved murders in Turkey. The murders of a number of officers and generals, including former gendarmerie general commander Eşref Bitlis, will be resolved. And the assassination attempts against Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will also be addressed. The codes of the Feb. 28 postmodern coup will be deciphered.

There are two more important points. First, the assassination attempts against Özal on June 18, 1988 in Ankara, during his speech at his party’s convention should be investigated. Second, the parliamentary Commission to Investigate Coups and Military Memorandums should also investigate Özal’s death.

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