Özal’s heart diagnosis by US doctors adds to poisoning suspicions

Özal’s heart diagnosis by US doctors adds to poisoning suspicions

Former Turkish President Turgut Özal. (Photo: AP)

December 13, 2012, Thursday/ 09:19:00

A newly revealed US hospital diagnosis of late Turkish President Turgut Özal has reinforced suspicions of deliberate poisoning in his death, a day after the Forensic Medicine Institute (ATK) submitted a report claiming it is not clear whether the late president was poisoned.

Doctors at Houston's Methodist Hospital, where Özal underwent an extensive medical check-up in early 1993, had found the late president's heart healthy just two-and-a-half months before his death. Özal's death was blamed on heart failure.

Investigating Özal's April 1993 death, the ATK report found traces of toxic substances in samples from his exhumed body but could not conclude that he died of poisoning.

The ATK is expected to make statements on its controversial report on Thursday.

Turkey's Zaman daily reported on Thursday that it had gained access to the 380-page report, which was submitted to the Ankara Protestor's Office. The report cites Özal's check-up at the US hospital, which deemed the former president's heart “very healthy.” The assessment concluded there was “little risk” that he could suffer a sudden cardiac arrest, Zaman noted.

Forensic experts exhumed Özal's body in October and tested samples for possible poisoning after an official presidential watchdog report concluded that his death was suspicious.

The forensic report submitted to Ankara prosecutors noted that cadmium and DDT were detected in Özal's body, but said officials could not determine the cause of death as poisoning.

Prosecutors have not made the report public, and it is unclear whether the new autopsy has determined the cause of Özal's death.

When Özal, who had undergone triple bypass surgery in 1987, died, doctors blamed heart failure. But no autopsy was performed, and family members have long claimed the president might have been poisoned.

Özal's pro-Western policies helped modernize Turkey and gave the US-led coalition a strategic ally during the First Gulf War.

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