World Bulletin / News Desk
A team inspected the site of the grave of former President Turgut Özal on Thursday in preparation for the exhumation of his body as part of a belated investigation in the cause of the 1993 death of the president.
The case was opened earlier this year, after a number of witnesses spoke of unusual circumstances on the day of the death of the president, who was reported to have suffered from a heart attack. The prosecutor's office recently issued a warrant to exhume the remains of the president for toxicology testing.
A team led by the İstanbul Deputy Chief Public Prosecutor Oktay Erdoğan was at Özal's gravesite in İstanbul's Topkapı district on Thursday to carry out a preliminary inspection. Although authorities have not yet given a specific time, Özal's body is expected to be exhumed within the next two weeks.
The approaching expiration of the statute of limitations on the case -- next year, which will mark 20 years since Özal's death -- is pressing prosecutors to take urgent action.
The Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor's Office is also investigating a number of unusual circumstances that came to light following Özal's supposed heart attack. Certain facts -- such as that on the day of his death his in-house doctor and nurse were both out, that staff were not able to start the ambulance due to a mechanical problem, the lack of first aid equipment at the presidential residence and other similar issues -- have led to suspicions surrounding the death of the former president.
In addition, the office is focused on inconsistencies between the statements of Özal's doctor and his family members regarding the lack of an autopsy. Özal's doctor, Cengiz Aslan, claimed that the family of the former president did not request an autopsy, but the Özal family has denied this claim.
In March, President Abdullah Gül ordered the State Audit Institution (DDK) to launch an investigation into the cause of Özal's death. The DDK submitted a report to Gül stating that Özal may not have been the victim of a heart attack and calling on prosecutors to investigate the case.