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Australia to probe 'dingo baby' mystery

[ 2011-12-19 17:03]     字号 [] [] []  
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Australia will hold a new inquest into the 1980 disappearance and death of baby Azaria Chamberlain, a case which drew huge attention after the baby's parents said she had been snatched by a dingo, or wild dog, officials said.

The inquest will be the fourth into the child's death at Ayer's Rock, also known as Uluru, in the Australian outback.

The child's mother, Lindy Chamberlain, was convicted of murder in 1982 and sentenced to life imprisonment, a conviction which was later quashed. A conviction against the father, Michael Chamberlain, as an accessory after the fact was also quashed.

The case has gripped the imagination of many Australians for decades, prompting several dramatizations, including the 1988 film A Cry in the Dark.

The inquest follows pressure from the family's lawyer for a new hearing, in the hope it will fully exonerate them.

Azaria's parents have always maintained that she was taken from their tent by a dingo.

Although the convictions against her parents were quashed, in 1995 the most recent inquest into Azaria's death returned an open verdict.

In October, the parents' lawyer, Stuart Tibble, wrote to the Northern Territory government asking for the inquest to be reopened.

In a statement on behalf of Coroner Elizabeth Morris, the territory's Department of Justice said on Sunday the move was in response to new information provided by the parents. It is set for Feb 24 in the territory's capital, Darwin.

No witnesses will be called, the department said, but evidence will tendered and submissionsmade on the evidence.

Azaria was nine weeks old when she disappeared on Aug 17, 1980, near Ayer's Rock.

The rock is a giant monolith in Australia's parched center and is one of the country's main tourist attractions. It is also an important religious site for Aboriginals.

The child's body was never found and her mother said she saw a dingo leaving the tent withthe baby. A first inquest in 1981 supported the parents' account, but in 1982 a second inquestoverthrew that finding and recommended the parents stand trial.

Lindy Chamberlain was convicted of murder in 1982 and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Michael Chamberlain was convicted of being an accessory after the fact and given a suspended sentence.

There were widespread claims of media bias at the time, often Lindy Chamberlain's apparentlack of emotion during the hearings.

After a piece of child's clothing, identified as having belonged to Azaria, was found in a dingo's den near the rock several years later, a Royal Commission in 1987 exonerated the parents, leading to Lindy Chamberlain's release.

However, a third inquest in 1995 returned an open verdict. The parents have since divorced.

(中国日报网英语点津 Rosy 编辑)

Australia to probe 'dingo baby' mystery

About the broadcaster:

Australia to probe 'dingo baby' mystery

Emily Cheng is an editor at China Daily. She was born in Sydney, Australia and graduated from the University of Sydney with a degree in Media, English Literature and Politics. She has worked in the media industry since starting university and this is the third time she has settled abroad - she interned with a magazine in Hong Kong 2007 and studied at the University of Leeds in 2009.