Turkey Exhumes Ozal's Body on Suspicions of Bulgarian Poisoning

Crime | September 19, 2012, Wednesday // 11:12
Turkish President Ozal Body Exhumed on Suspicions of Bulgarian Poisoning: Turkey Exhumes Ozal's Body on Suspicions of Bulgarian Poisoning Halil Turgut Ozal died on April 17, 1993, of a suspicious heart attack while still in office. File photo

The body of former Turkish President, Turgut Ozal, is to be exhumed for an autopsy to investigate suspicions surrounding his death.

The news was reported by Turkish media and cited by the Bulgarian 24 Chassa (24 Hours) daily.

The exhumation has been ordered by the Prosecutor's Office in Ankara on grounds his death remains suspicious.

Halil Turgut Ozal (October 13, 1927 – April 17, 1993) was Prime Minister of Turkey (1983–1989) and President of Turkey (1989–1993). As Prime Minister, he transformed the economy of Turkey by paving the way for the privatization of many state enterprises.

Ozal died on April 17, 1993, of a suspicious heart attack while still in office, leading some to believe in an assassination plot. His wife Semra Ozal claimed he was poisoned by lemonade and she questioned the lack of an autopsy.

Curiously enough, the Turkish President died after a reception at the Bulgarian Embassy in Ankara, held on April 16, one day before him passing away. He, allegedly, drank the lemonade precisely at that reception.

During the Communist regime, Ozal was known as a strong defender of Bulgarian ethnic Turks, who were hunted by the government for refusing to change their Muslim names with Christian ones during the so-called "Revival Process." He adopted Bulgarian ethnic Turkish weightlifting champion Naim Suleimanoglou after the latter defected to Turkey.

The blood samples taken to determine his cause of death were lost or disposed of. Ozal sought to create a Turkic union, and had obtained the commitment of several presidents. His wife Semra alleged that the perpetrator might have wanted to foil the plan.

On June 18 1988, he survived an assassination attempt during the party congress. One bullet wounded his finger while another bullet missed his head. The assassin, Kartal Demirag, was captured and sentenced to life imprisonment but pardoned by Ozal in 1992.

In late 2008, Demirag was retried by the Ankara 11th Heavy Penal Court and sentenced to twenty years in prison.

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Tags: heart attack, suspicious, Turgut Ozal, lemonade, Ankara, Prosecutor's Office, Revival Process, Semra Ozal, poisoning, Bulgarian Embassy, suspicions, exhumed, body, Turkish President
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