The State Audit Institution (DDK), part of the President’s Office, on Wednesday announced its findings regarding allegations that Özal might have been poisoned in his last years. The report finds it beyond any reasonable explanation that there were no fully equipped ambulances available on the palace grounds on the day of the president’s death, and also says the failure to conduct an autopsy on the president’s body raises doubts. The report called on prosecutors to act and open the case regarding Özal’s death.
On Thursday, Presidency Press Secretary Ahmet Sever told the Anatolia news agency that a request for an appointment Semra Özal made after the DDK report’s release was answered positively. He noted that the time and place of the meeting have not yet been set. Meanwhile, the ninth president, Süleyman Demirel, made a statement regarding the DDK report, saying he did not find it convincing that Özal was murdered.
Speaking to journalists during a visit from the Democrat Party’s (DP) new leader, Gültekin Uysal, and an accompanying delegation at his Güniz Street home in the capital, Demirel first responded to a recent remark from Deputy Prime Minister Beşir Atalay, who accused the former president of acting as the coordinator of the Feb. 28, 1997 unarmed military intervention, dubbed the postmodern coup.
“I am not in a position to give individual responses to anyone. I have said all that I meant to say,” Demirel said regarding the question about his alleged role in the 1997 coup era.
About Özal’s death, he said: “I don’t think he was murdered, poisoned or anything like that. I was in İzmir [at the time] and I only managed to return [to Ankara] perhaps five, six or 10 hours after his death. All of the doctors at the hospital were saying, ‘He was dead when he got here.’ I am not a doctor. I believed them. I was the prime minister; we did all that we could.”
He noted that the Özal family has recently been persistently alleging that Özal’s death was murder, adding that any suspicions should be investigated. “If that is the case, then they should find whoever did it. If not [murder], then they should stop [repeating their allegations]. You can’t carry on rumors from 19 years ago. The first day these allegations were made I said I didn’t believe it was possible. This is my personal opinion. The state can use its resources and find this out, but in Turkey nobody trusts the findings of the state. Nobody believes the state, whether it says ‘nothing happened’ or ‘something happened’.”
Ahmet Özal, son of the late president, told reporters that it is up to the judiciary to decide whether or not to exhume the grave but he urged that his father “should not be disturbed.”
Özal said he was not surprised by the DKK report because “we have already been saying that his death was not normal all along.”
Özal added that more than unveiling if his father was poisoned or not, it is important to find those behind this plot.