x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Turkey exhumes ex-president Ozal's body

Remains of former president Turgut Ozal, who died in 1993, have been exhumed in Istanbul on the orders of prosecutors investigating suspicions of foul play.

ISTANBUL // The remains of former president Turgut Ozal, who led Turkey out of military rule in the 1980s and drove far-reaching economic reform, were exhumed in Istanbul yesterday on the orders of prosecutors investigating suspicions of foul play in his death 19 years ago.

Amid security, mechanical diggers dug up his grave in a cemetery on the European side of Turkey's largest city, supervised by a prosecutor-led team including forensic experts.

Ozal died of heart failure in April 1993 in an Ankara hospital at the age of 65. Relatives and associates voiced suspicions he had been poisoned.

Forensic teams will investigate whether any poisonous substances are present in the remains, said Haluk Ince, the head of the state forensic medicine institute.

Turkish political history is littered with military coups, alleged anti-government plots and extrajudicial killings. A Turkish court is currently trying hundreds of suspects allegedly linked to a secret network known as Ergenekon accused of plotting to overthrow the current government.

Ozal's brother, Korkut Ozal, said in 2010 he believed Ergenekon had killed his brother.

Extrajudicial killings were common at that time, and have been blamed on shadowy militant forces with ties to the state.