The family of a British vacationer found dead in Turkey calls on the Foreign Office to pressure the authorities to hand over an autopsy report.
Stuart Tokam, 44, was found dead at an airport after being prevented from boarding a plane to the UK on September 18 last year.
An investigation into his death was adjourned after a coroner said he could only record an “open conclusion” because the court had not received enough information.
The Walthamstow Coroner court heard that the Cameroonian-born Tokam was suffering from mental health and was taking a break in Turkey with a friend.
He was denied boarding the flight on the day he was due to return because airport staff thought he was too drunk.
He was then found hanging in another part of the airport, the investigation heard.
A toxicological report found that Mr Tokam had 223 micrograms of alcohol per 100 ml of blood – two and a half times above the limit for alcohol consumption.
In the report, Dr. Susan Patterson, Head of Toxicology at Imperial College London, also found traces of methamphetamine in the urine of Mr. Tokam and diazepam – which had been prescribed for him.
Forensic pathologist Dr. Virginia Fitzpatrick-Swallow said alcohol and drug levels were “not in a lethal range” although Mr. Tokam “may have experienced some degree of intoxication” prior to his death.
It was said that in Turkey’s southeastern province of Muğla, prior to Dr. Fitzpatrick-Swallow an autopsy was performed.
However, the Turkish authorities did not provide the family or the investigation with any documents.
The second post-mortem could not find any “defined traces of ligature”, and examination of the neck tissue did not reveal any significant bruising.
There were also no signs of illness or any other illness that contributed to the death, it said.
Dr. Fitzpatrick-Swallow said she could not give a cause of death.
She concluded: “From a purely pathological point of view, I am unable to state hanging as the cause of death. The established cause of death is not known.”
Graeme Irving, a senior medical examiner at Walthamstow Coroner’s Court, said although he had the authority to summon witnesses in England and Wales, the office had no authority over foreign jurisdictions and could not obtain the files from Turkey itself.
Mr Irving said the coroner’s office relied on the Foreign and Commonwealth offices to apply diplomatic pressure to get the documents.
He said: “Unfortunately, the legal powers of the Medical Examiner’s Court in the UK have no effect in Turkey. The FCO must check with that other country.
“Unfortunately, despite numerous inquiries from the FCO, no information was received from the Turkish authorities at this point in time. Due to the lack of information from the Turkish authorities, I have decided to continue the investigation today.”
However, he listened to the family’s requests to postpone the investigation and ask the Foreign Office for help one last time.
Mr Tokam’s wife, Vicky, told the investigation that she could not understand why the Turkish authorities would not disclose the autopsy report.
She said: “I have a lot of questions for the Turkish side. Questions that I believe remain unanswered now, how he died and where he died, and those questions that I don’t think we will get answers to – that’s my main concern.
“Even if there was video surveillance at the airport and how he was left behind. How come that happened at the airport? “
Mr. Irving said, “It seems to me that the only conclusion I can reach in this investigation, based on the evidence available to me, is an open conclusion.
“The court determined at the time of the investigation that there was not enough evidence to draw a proper conclusion about the death. The coroner will be free to submit additional evidence to request the opening of an investigation in order to include new evidence in the investigation. “
Ms. Tokam asked the coroner to adjourn so that he could return to the Foreign Office before drawing an open conclusion.
Mr. Irving said, “I apologize that we are not going to draw any meaningful conclusions today. I will send a letter to the FCO asking for a final position.
“I am pleased to say that you have asked, emphatically and sensibly, for all the information you and your children may have to help you move out of these tragic circumstances.”
The investigation was postponed to a date to be determined.