"Black magic" death will not be investigated

An Australian coroner on canceled an investigation into the death of an Aboriginal man after accepting that his family believed he had been killed by black magic.

Greg Cavanagh, coroner in Australia's Northern Territory, called off an autopsy to determine the cause of 33-year-old Colin Lalara's death last year.

Lalara's body was found on his bed at his home on Groote Eylandt, 500 miles east of the territory's capital of Darwin, on June 5, the day after he complained of chest pains.

Police said there were no suspicious circumstances, but referred the case to the coroner so an official cause of death could be recorded.

But Lalara's family refused to allow officials to disturb the body, saying he was in line to become a senior "ceremony man" - someone powerful in tribal law - and moving him would cause tribal conflict on the island.

The father of a man blamed for casting the spell, however, called for the autopsy to go ahead.

"They should find out how he died the proper way and not believe in this black magic," Murabuda Wurramara told police. "I want them to find out because they are blaming my son for killing him with black magic."

After hearing evidence from tribal elders on the island, Cavanagh said he accepted that the island's Aboriginal community would not believe his findings if they conflicted with tribal law, and ended the investigation, recording the death as being from a cause unknown.

"Unless death occurs very early in life or is due to old age, there is no such thing as a natural death within Aboriginal culture," Cavanagh said of the elders' evidence.

"The elders indicated that their belief (that someone was responsible for the death) was so strong that the medical or physical cause of death was irrelevant," he said.

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