Wed, Feb 07, 2007 - Page 5 News List

Cops investigate claims of necrophilia at university

AFP , SYDNEY

Australian police are investigating claims of necrophilia and the abusive handling of body parts in the anatomy department of a top university, the New South Wales state government said yesterday.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported yesterday that staff at the University of New South Wales alleged a male worker sexually fondled cadavers, mislabeled body parts and piled coffins with parts from multiple corpses.

It said the man, who no longer works at the university, had denied the allegations.

State Health Minister John Hatzistergos said he was appalled at the claims surrounding the university, which had its license to conduct anatomy classes revoked last November after an internal audit raised concerns.

"These are appalling and deeply concerning allegations," Hatzistergos said.

"The generosity of people who donate their bodies for medical research benefit us all in the training of our doctors and the advancement of medical research," he said.

"These people, and their families, deserve to know their remains are being treated with dignity and respect. We have taken what action we can and the matter has now been referred to police," he said.

The university apologized to the families of people who had donated their bodies to medical research at the anatomy department.

But it defended its actions in keeping the allegations secret for four months, meaning the families only learned about the alleged abuses through media reports.

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