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UK releases secret papers confirming Iraq arms expert's suicide

LONDON - Agence France-Presse | 10/22/2010 12:00:00 AM |

The British government releases secret medical documents confirming that Iraq weapons inspector David Kelly committed suicide by slashing his wrist after doubts were raised over the cause of death.

The British government released secret medical documents Friday confirming that Iraq weapons inspector David Kelly committed suicide by slashing his wrist after doubts were raised over the cause of death.

The Ministry of Justice said it was publishing the papers, which had been classified for 70 years following an official inquiry into his death, "in the interests of maintaining public confidence in the inquiry."

A group of medical experts earlier this year called for a full inquiry into Kelly's death in 2003, arguing that the suicide verdict was unsafe. The incident has also spawned a host of conspiracy theories. In the post-mortem report unveiled publicly for the first time, pathologist Nicholas Hunt wrote that wounds to Kelly's left wrist that severed an artery were "typical of self-inflicted injury."

A toxicology report confirmed that he had taken an overdose of painkillers.

The post-mortem report also said there was no evidence that Kelly had been subjected to any kind of assault and no sign that his body had been "dragged or otherwise transported to the location at which his body was found."

"I am publishing these reports in the interests of maintaining public confidence in the inquiry into how Dr. Kelly came by his death," Justice Minister Kenneth Clarke said in a statement. "While I firmly believe that the publication of these documents is in the public interest, I am mindful that the contents may be distressing. I hope that the privacy of Dr. Kelly's family will be respected at this difficult time."

Kelly was found dead in woods near his home in Oxfordshire, southern England, after he was exposed as the source for a BBC story that alleged Blair's government "sexed up" intelligence on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction. The then Lord Chancellor, the government's chief law officer, Charles Falconer, suspended an inquest into the death before an inquiry began, and the inquest was never resumed.

The 2004 inquiry, carried out by Lord Hutton, also concluded that the principal cause of death was the wounds to Kelly's wrists, but Hutton requested that the medical papers should remain classified for 70 years.

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