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December 16, 2012, Sunday

Controversial ATK report

A recent report by the Council of Forensic Medicine (ATK) on the death of former President Turgut Özal has failed to clear up suspicions surrounding his death in 1993.

According to the autopsy report, there were no clinical and laboratory findings that suggested that Özal had been poisoned though poisonous substances were found in his body. The former president died of heart failure at the age of 65. However, the real cause of Özal's death is a matter of contention. There have long been rumors that Özal did not die of natural causes but was poisoned. His remains were exhumed in October as part of an investigation into his death and a series of toxicology tests were performed on his internal organs and tissues. But the ATK's report only helped to further increase suspicions.

Star's Sedat Laçiner says no matter which country it happens in, the cause of a president's death is questioned by everyone because the death of a leader directly influences people's lives. “The death of a president like Özal, who changed the Turkish Republic in a revolutionary way and who would have obviously changed it further while he was in office, resulted in doubts,” he says. In his view, the ATK's report has increased suspicions about Özal's death instead of eliminating them. “It is most probably not the ATK which is responsible for this. Its report confirms that there are poisonous materials in Özal's body but as the necessary tests were not made just after his death, the exact cause of his death cannot be determined. Perhaps the real cause of Özal's death will never be found but questions about his death will last for centuries,” says Laçiner.

Resorting to sarcasm, Sabah's Sevilay Yükselir says she wants to congratulate ATK President Haluk İnce for presenting an autopsy report to the public that is so confusing and suspicious. “How nonsensical is it to state that poison was found [in the body] but that there was no poisoning?” she says, referring to the ATK report. But Yükselir is of the belief that Özal was not poisoned and died naturally. She thinks the toxic substances found in Özal's body, such as dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane (DDT), which is commonly used as an insecticide and was banned in Turkey in 1980, might have entered the former president's body via the food he ate. Yükselir says if similar tests were conducted on the remains of Özal's peers, there might be similar results as the use of DDT was very common in agriculture back then. She says the ATK should have clearly stated this in its report in order to not add to the speculations.

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