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Among all the leaders of the Turkish regime overthrown by last May’s military revolution, the toughest was President Celal Bayar, 77, a veteran of the bomb-throwing resistance to the Ottoman tyranny before World War I. He is also the man most Turks consider responsible for inspiring the most onerous of the policies of the old government. Last week, on the eve of the scheduled trial of Turkey’s deposed rulers, the old terrorist tried to escape the execution he expects. In the island prison near Istanbul where he is being held along with ex-Premier Adnan Menderes and 328 other Democrats on charges of treason or other misdeeds, Bayar finished breakfast, got permission to take a bath. The guard outside the door heard strangling noises, rushed in to find Bayar slumped in the tub, his belt cinched tight around his neck. The old man was revived. “I was not anxious to be saved,” said Bayar wearily.

Bayar had tried to commit suicide “to save the family honor,” explained a member of the 38-man ruling junta. “He wanted to go down in history other than as a condemned criminal.”

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