Ex-President's near plane crash in indictment

A plane that nearly crashed years ago with Turkey's eighth president, Turgut Özal, on board had a 95 percent chance of explosion in the air and this information has been included in an indictment regarding Özal's death.

Ex-President's near plane crash in indictment

World Bulletin/News Desk

It has emerged during an investigation that a plane that nearly crashed years ago with Turkey's eighth president, Turgut Özal, on board had a 95 percent chance of explosion in the air and this information has been included in an indictment officially accepted by a court hearing a trial regarding Özal's death.

The Ankara 13th High Criminal Court recently accepted an indictment accusing retired Gen. Levent Ersöz of having a role in Özal's death in 1993, which at the time was not investigated, as officials closed the case saying the death was due to a heart attack. However, last year, prosecutors started investigating claims that Özal's death might have been an assassination. The prosecution is demanding life in prison for Ersöz on charges of attempting to assassinate President Özal.

The indictment lists the near plane crash and an attempt at Özal's life by shooter Kartal Demirağ on June 18, 1988 at the Ankara Atatürk Sports Hall during a Motherland Party (formerly ANAP, now ANAVATAN) congress which injured Özal in the right hand as “attacks that targeted Özal prior to his death.”

The indictment also includes testimony from the late president's son, Ahmet Özal, from April 1, 2013. Ahmet Özal says about two or three months before the assassination attempt by Kartal Demirağ, Turgut Özal survived a near plane crash aboard the state aircraft, TC-GAP. There was a technical problem on the plane after it took off from Yeşilköy and the pilot had to return immediately. The right engine of the craft failed and electrical equipment stopped working, Ahmet Özal said; adding that people panicked and were screaming inside the plane. The plane was able to do a last-minute landing at Yeşilköy, after flying very low and close to the water and without the knowledge of the control tower. The plane's tires burst upon touch-down.

According to Ahmet Özal's account, the pilot screamed, “The plane is going to explode.” He said Turgut Özal was taken out of the plane by his bodyguards immediately after the landing and that Özal's Press Advisor Can Pulat and Special Aide Tevfik Ertürk, who jumped out to the ground from the back cargo door, were injured trying to evacuate the plane.

Ahmet Özal also claimed in his testimony that a report made by the manufacturer of the aircraft after the incident said the possibility of the plane exploding while in the air was 95 percent and he said he and his father survived against the odds.

He said at first the family didn't think of the possibility that it was an assassination attempt, but when three months later, Demirağ tried to kill Özal at a party congress, the near crash appeared like it might have been another attempt on his life.

Özal's body, buried in İstanbul, was exhumed during the investigation in 2012 after some claimed that he was killed by a highly potent poison. An autopsy performed on the remains found traces of strychnine creatine, a powerful poison that leads to respiratory arrest in 15-20 minutes after intake and could also cause a heart attack, Özal's official cause of death, as declared initially.

Özal, the eighth president of the Turkish Republic, died of heart failure in April of 1993 at an Ankara hospital at the age of 65 while serving in office.

Last Mod: 25 Nisan 2013, 15:12
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