Turkey looks into 'security scandal' after sick PM locked up in car
Turkey on Wednesday questioned the competence of high-level security staff after an unconscious Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, rushed to hospital for low blood sugar, was accidentally locked in his car for about 10 minutes.
A preliminary inquiry was launched into the incident to determine whether Erdogan's driver and bodyguards were responsible for breaching security rules or for negligence, officials said.
"A security scandal," blared the best-selling Hurriyet newspaper, decrying Erdogan's hospitalisation on Tuesday as "a chain of clumsiness and mistakes."
"Abandoned in the hands of fate," trumpeted the popular Aksam, while the mass-circulation Sabah asked: "What if the prime minister was having a heart attack?"
Struck by panic after the 52-year-old Erdogan suddenly fell ill, his driver and bodyguards all jumped out of the car and slammed the doors as they arrived at the hospital, activating the vehicle's automatic lock system, with the car key left in the ignition.
As the prime minister lay unconscious inside, they reportedly struggled for about 10 minutes to break the thick window of the armoured car, aided by workers at a construction site near the hospital who brought a sledgehammer and a chisel.
"The citizens who happened to be at the hospital watched bedazzled as the prime minister of the Republic of Turkey was taken out unconscious from a vehicle whose window was broken with a sledgehammer," the Vatan daily wrote.
Erdogan's spokesman maintained that the driver and the bodyguards were well-trained professionals, but said the authorities were looking into the incident.
"Preliminary work is under way to determine why and how the incident occurred," Akif Beki was quoted as saying by Anatolia news agency. "Depending on the outcome, a (formal) investigation will be launched if necessary."
Erdogan was treated for about nine hours and discharged on Tuesday evening. He cancelled his Wednesday's schedule, including a meeting with OECD secretary general Angel Gurria, to convalesce.
Doctors said Erdogan was diagnosed with hypoglycaemia, or drop of blood sugar, caused by exhaustion and fasting.
A practising Muslim, Erdogan follows the dawn-to-dusk fast during the holy month of Ramazan.
Erdogan, who does not drink alcohol or smoke, is generally known to be in good health.
He was feeling fine on Wednesday and even did some paperwork at home, Beki told reporters outside the prime minister's house in Ankara's Kecioren district.
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