Turkish court arrests 6 people in food poisoning probe in Manisa’s military barracks

A Turkish court on Wednesday arrested six employees of a catering firm, including the firm’s CEO and its local manager, over a suspected food poisoning incident in which 731 soldiers at a military barracks in the Aegean province of Manisa were hospitalized. The prosecutor has also referred another eight employees, including the company’s purchasing manager, to the Court of Peace with an arrest demand.

Sixteen out of 25 employees of the Rota catering firm were released by prosecutor following their testimony, while the court released three of them under judicial control orders and ruled for the arrest of six.  Meanwhile, another 23 people, including six officers responsible from the food control at the barracks and 17 catering firm employees, were referred to the court to give their testimonies over the case on Thursday. The six military personnel and nine catering firm personnel were released after their testimonies while eight of the suspects were refered to the court with an arrest demand.

Meanwhile, the Turkish Ministry of Health has announced that soldiers who were hospitalized at the end of May in Manisa province due to suspected food poisoning had contracted salmonella, the Cumhuriyet daily reported on Thursday.

According a statement from the ministry, investigations into the food poisoning of more than a thousand soldiers in Manisa during the last couple of weeks are still ongoing, while the cause of the food poisoning in May was found to be the salmonella bacteria.

The Diken news website also said the Ministry of Health had announced the cause of the soldiers’ hospitalization to be food poisoning. The ministry has completed its preliminary investigation and relying on clinical symptoms, samples from the hospital and the results of epidemiological analysis it was determined that the soldiers were poisoned by food.

The Manisa mayor’s office had suggested that the soldiers were not poisoned by food but were psychologically affected by each other.

Forty people, including the general manager of a catering firm, have been detained in relation to the food poisoning of soldiers during the last couple of weeks.

The Manisa Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office said in a statement earlier this week that the number of detentions had reached 40 and that some employees of Rota Catering were also detained after the fourth food poisoning incident at the military base in Manisa.

Rota Catering’s general manager, with whom the company parted ways due to the food poisoning incidents, was detained in Ankara on Wednesday.

An employee of Rota Catering said they were using food that should have been thrown away for the soldiers’ meals and that soldiers were poisoned because of the spoiled ingredients. According to the employee of the firm, the Provincial Directorate of Agriculture was unable to inspect the catering company because it is situated on the military base.

Some 731 soldiers were hospitalized late on June 17 after being affected by a suspected food poisoning at the Manisa First Infantry Training Brigade Command. Although the Manisa Chief Prosecutor Akif Celahattain Şimşek previously indicated that the incident was a result of food poisoning, the Health Ministry on June 22 said they were currently waiting for results of a detailed lab analysis to come out for “precise results.”

The June 17 incident in Manisa was reported to be the second such incident at the same military barracks after more than 1,000 soldiers were affected by a similar infection on May 23, with one soldier succumbing to the effects of the poisoning.

June 22, 2017

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