Demand to jail pathologist who 'sent bodies of homeless to anatomy show'

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The Independent Online

Prosecutors in Russia demanded a symbolic two-year suspended prison sentence yesterday for a Siberian pathologist accused of illegally exporting 56 corpses and 440 brain segments to the controversial German anatomist Gunther von Hagens.

Prosecutors in Russia demanded a symbolic two-year suspended prison sentence yesterday for a Siberian pathologist accused of illegally exporting 56 corpses and 440 brain segments to the controversial German anatomist Gunther von Hagens.

The pathologist, Vladimir Novoselov, stands accused of abusing his position to collect and export the corpses of Siberia's homeless, prison inmates and mentally ill for Dr Von Hagens' exhibitions and research - sometimes without the relatives' permission. Vitaly Ognev, the state prosecutor, claimed he had provided proof that Mr Novoselov, who was the head of the Novosibirsk region's forensic science unit, had illegally forced hospitals in western Siberia to send him unclaimed corpses between 1999 and 2000.

In addition, it was alleged, the relatives of eight of the 56 dead were told that the bodies had been cremated, and were charged £40 to recover the ashes. By the time they discovered the truth the disputed bodies had been dispatched to Dr Von Hagens' Institute for Plastination in Heidelberg, Germany.

There the corpses were skinned and had their body fluids replaced with synthetic resins allegedly making identification impossible.

This would appear to have been a clear breach of Russian law, which stipulates that corpses can only be used for medical research if they are unclaimed by relatives.

Mr Novoselov denies breaking the law. He was acquitted of the same charges last year but prosecutors appealed.

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