Uncertainty surrounds death of former police chief

March 05, 2012, Monday/ 16:15:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN

Authorities are currently investigating whether the death of former Ankara Police Chief Hasan Eryılmaz, who was discovered dead in his car Sunday evening on the side of the Ankara-Konya highway with one gunshot wound to his left temple, is a case of murder or suicide.

Eryılmaz telephoned his son, Mustafa, who works for Turkey's National Intelligence Organization (MİT), around 5:30 p.m. to say he was being followed and that he feared a vehicle was trying to force him off the road.

The phone connection was lost shortly thereafter and Eryılmaz's son immediately alerted authorities to the situation and set out to search for his father. Around the same time, police received a call reporting that the body of man, who was later confirmed to be Eryılmaz, had been discovered in a vehicle on the Ankara-Konya highway in the İncek district of Ankara. The 63-year-old father of two had been killed by a single gunshot to the left temple.

Upon arrival at the scene, a gun identified as belonging to Eryılmaz was discovered on the passenger seat of the car by the Police Department Crime Scene Investigation and Homicide Unit.

Police believe there is a strong possibility that Eryılmaz took out his gun for protection and set it on the passenger seat of his car when he noticed he was being followed. The car was found pulled over on the side of the highway following a sharp bend in the road, supporting a theory that Eryılmaz's possible assassinators took advantage of the drop in speed required for the turn to fire the fatal shot before making a speedy getaway.

However, forensic teams are also conducting investigations into the possibility that the former police chief committed suicide.

Eryılmaz worked as an officer in Ankara during Turkey's Sept. 12, 1980 coup era and was one of the officers accused of torturing prisoners during the coup regime. Eryılmaz began working as a police chief in 2001 and retired in 2009.

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