ANKARA, Turkey - Turkish authorities have arrested a former top-tier soccer player who confessed to killing his 5-year-old son while the boy was being treated in a hospital on suspicion of a COVID-19 infection.
Cevher Toktas, 32, handed himself over to police and confessed to having smothered his son, Kasim, with a pillow on May 4, the state-run Anadolu Agency reported.
The boy's death was initially not believed to be suspicious, although he tested negative for COVID-19. His body has been exhumed for an autopsy as part of the investigation, Anadolu reported.
HaberTurk television reported that Toktas, who currently plays with amateur league team Bursa Yildirimspor, told police that he tried to suffocate his son because he did not love him, and turned himself in to police 11 days later because he felt remorse.
The boy was admitted to the children's hospital in the northwestern province of Bursa with a cough and high fever on April 23 — an official Turkish public holiday celebrating children — and placed in isolation along with his father.
Soon after, Toktas said, he smothered the boy and called for help, saying Kasim had taken a turn for the worse. The 5-year-old was rushed to the hospital’s intensive care unit, where he died two hours later.
The Bursa Office of the Prosecutor released a statement on behalf of Toktas, according to Goal.com.
“I pressed a pillow on my son who was lying on his back. For 15 minutes, I pressed down on the pillow without lifting it up. My son was struggling during that time. After he stopped moving, I lifted the pillow. Then I yelled for doctors to help to draw any suspicions away from me,” the statement read.
“I never loved my younger son after he was born. I don’t know why I don’t love him. The sole reason why I killed him that day is because I didn’t like him. I don’t have any mental issues.”
No trial date has been set yet.
Between 2007 and 2009, Toktas played for the Hacettepe soccer team, which briefly competed in the Turkish top-tier Super League.
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The Associated Press and FOX News contributed to this report.