Major arrested as part of probe into arsenal explosion

Major arrested as part of probe into arsenal explosion

The military truck seen in this photo was severely damaged in last week's munitions depot blast. (Photo: AA)

September 14, 2012, Friday/ 18:07:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN

A military court in Eskişehir on Friday ruled to arrest a major and release two others, a colonel and a lieutenant colonel, pending trial as part of a probe into an explosion at a munitions depot in the western province of Afyonkarahisar that killed 25 soldiers last week.

Maj. Ali Duran, who has been arrested, is accused of involuntary manslaughter.

Last week 25 soldiers were killed when an explosion ripped through the munitions depot. A fire ensued, and the soldiers' remains were retrieved after the fire was extinguished. Two noncommissioned officers, two special sergeants and 21 privates were killed in the blast. Separate investigations by military and civilian prosecutors into the explosion are under way, with the exact cause of the blast to be established once the investigations are complete.

The trial of the suspects has begun in Eskişehir. Three high-ranking commanders who are stationed at the munitions depot will go to Eskişehir on Wednesday to testify to the court.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced that four military officers were removed from their posts and reassigned to other military units in the wake of the huge explosion in Afyonkarahisar.

“One colonel, one lieutenant colonel, one major and a noncommissioned officer have been removed from their duties and appointed to other places,” Erdoğan said.

In the meantime, Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu on Friday repeated his concerns that the explosion in Afyonkarahisar might have been the result of sabotage, saying that Prime Minister Erdoğan has been duped by experts who tell him that the blast may have been caused by a private pulling the pin out of a hand grenade out of curiosity about its design.

“The possibility of sabotage is very high. Pardon me, but the experts who tell Erdoğan that the explosion was the result of an accident treat him like a fool,” said Kılıçdaroğlu.

He also said he would have drawn a lot of negative reactions if he had said the explosion was caused by an inquisitive private.

Also on Friday, the Forensic Medicine Council (ATK) announced the identities of 24 of the slain soldiers. The announcement was a source of comfort for the relatives of the soldiers. “We will collect the body of our son on Sunday. We have been waiting for that moment for several days. We will take him to our hometown,” said the father of one of the slain soldiers.

The Haydarpaşa Gülhane Military Academy of Medicine (GATA) is planning to hold an official funeral ceremony for the soldiers on Sunday.


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