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Last Updated: Wednesday, 10 March, 2004, 09:58 GMT
Body doctor cleared over corpses
Dr von Hagens with one of his exhibits
Millions of people have visited the show
A German scientist who created an exhibition of human corpses has been cleared of allegations that he illegally obtained some of the bodies.

Gunther von Hagens was accused in several press reports last year of using bodies from China and Kyrgyzstan.

But prosecutors in Heidelberg, Germany, said the corpses had been sold legally by institutions such as hospitals.

Nearly 14 million people have visited Dr von Hagens' touring Body Worlds show since it began in 1996.

Some German press reports said bodies came from psychiatric and general hospitals, a prison and a medical faculty in Kyrgyzstan.

Bodies were also said to have come from similar institutions in China, as well as from police.

Professor von Hagens
Professor von Hagens says many of his corpses are from volunteers

Prosecutors said Dr von Hagens was allowed to buy the corpses from such institutions because they were legal custodians of the bodies if the relatives of the dead had not claimed them.

An article in German magazine Der Spiegel earlier this year alleged Dr von Hagens had used the bodies of Chinese people sentenced to death.

The scientist said he could not rule out the possibility that some bodies were executed prisoners.

"I can't fully rule it out, because I don't know if the body of a man who was sentenced to death was ever unknowingly delivered to us," he said at the time.

Dr von Hagens said the corpses were usually obtained through donations.

More than 4,500 people have offered to give their bodies to him for use in his displays after their deaths.


The doctor caused more controversy last week when he was fined 144,000 euros (96,000) for using the title of professor.

Dr von Hagens was found guilty of "abuse of an academic title" by prosecutors in Heidelberg.

His title was awarded by a Chinese university - but the University of Heidelberg complained that he gave the impression he got it in Germany.

The Body Worlds exhibition, which included the body of a dead child and a horse, has caused a stir in many countries.

Last year Edinburgh City Council, in Scotland, turned down the exhibition on the grounds that some people could find it offensive.

In 2002, the show came to London. It was a huge success and attracted well over 550,000 visitors.

Body 'professor' fined over title
04 Mar 04  |  Entertainment
Body parts furore hits Kyrgyzstan
05 Nov 03  |  Asia-Pacific
Body exhibits show 'will go on'
29 Jul 03  |  Scotland
Businessman donates body to art
25 Nov 02  |  England


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