Autopsies of downed jet pilots completed, results not to be made public

July 24, 2012, Tuesday/ 14:24:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN

Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz has announced that autopsies on the two pilots of a military jet downed by Syria on June 22 have been completed but added that the results will not be made public out of respect for the families.

Speaking to reporters during an iftar (fast-breaking) dinner on Monday night for representatives of foreign diplomatic missions in Turkey hosted by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Yılmaz also said there were no bullet wounds on the bodies of the two pilots. "The autopsies have been completed; there are no bullet marks," he said.

Responding to questions from journalists, Yılmaz said, however, that the full report will not be shared with the public. “Revealing the details of the autopsies would be disrespectful to the families of the martyred pilots and would constitute a violation of their [right to] privacy,” he said.

It was hoped that the results of the autopsies would shed some light on the controversy over what really happened on June 22. In a statement released earlier this month, the military raised doubts over whether the plane was shot down by the Syrians, referring the jet as "our aircraft that Syrian authorities claimed to have shot down." Official statements have also indicated that an ongoing investigation into the June 22 incident revealed no evidence that Syria hit the Turkish jet with a missile or an anti-aircraft weapon, adding to the confusion over how the plane crashed. Syria has said its forces downed the plane with anti-aircraft fire.

Noting that there is no discrepancy in the Turkish General Staff's previously released statements, Yılmaz added, “What we have said thus far is still valid.”

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