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Postponement of Aboriginal remains legal battle

A legal battle to stop testing on Aboriginal remains [1] is to be delayed until the seventh of March.

Herald Sun (Melbourne, Australia) [2]

February 24, 2007
Battle over Aboriginal bones
Fiona Hudson

A LEGAL battle to stop scientists from a British museum pulverising the remains of Australian Aborigines has been delayed until March 7 after the British and Australian governments weighed in.

Lawyer for the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre Geoffrey Robertson, QC, told the High Court in London that the delay in proceedings was disappointing “but it’s taken 100 years thus far”.

Aboriginal leaders who flew to London hoping to retrieve their ancestors’ remains from the Natural History Museum will return home empty-handed next month.

Aboriginal Land Council of Tasmania chairman Clyde Mansell said the adjournment would give the Aussie legal team time to regroup and mount an even stronger argument.

“We’ll make contact with other groups around the world and build an even stronger case,” he said.

The Natural History Museum has agreed to return the remains of 17 Aborigines, but wants to conduct tests, including vapourising and dissolving bones, skulls and teeth, before returning them.

They claim the intrusive tests are necessary to further scientific understanding of indigenous Tasmanians.

Museum lawyer Richard Clayton, QC, said it was regrettable the case had “expanded like Topsy in every direction”, and he looked forward to a speedy conclusion.