Page last updated at 16:06 GMT, Thursday, 3 April 2008 17:06 UK

Family anger at exhumation demand

Christopher Rochester
Mr Rochester died of internal bleeding at Andreas Papandreou hospital

The family of a UK tourist who died on Rhodes have said Greek authorities are demanding his body be exhumed.

Christopher Rochester bled to death in hospital after falling from a balcony on the island in 2000, and was missing a kidney when his body was flown home.

An organ was later sent out, but tests failed to produce a genetic match.

The 24-year-old's parents, from County Durham, said the Greek government had refused to accept existing DNA samples and wanted fresh tests on the body.

Pam and George Cummings, of Chester-le-Street, fought a seven-year-campaign to convict a Greek doctor of manslaughter by neglect over Mr Rochester's death.

They have also won the right to an independent inquiry into the kidney mix-up following a campaign led by Durham North MP Kevan Jones.

The Greek authorities have agreed to independent tests by specialists in France or Belgium.

Pam and George Cummings
Pam and George Cummings won the right to an independent inquiry

But they are insisting on new material from the body, instead of using readily-available DNA samples from a biopsy Mr Rochester underwent before his death.

Mrs Cummings claims the exhumation is an attempt to discourage them from pursuing justice.

She said: "This has been a cover-up from the word go. It wasn't just what they did to him when he was alive, but also what they did after he died.

"It's a ridiculous request and completely unnecessary, but if we have to exhume Chris, we will. This is not going to stop us."

Now MP Kevan Jones has written to the Greek government urging them to accept the biopsy samples or other DNA material available from Mr Rochester's hairbrush and watch.

Durham Police have also confirmed that the biopsy material is perfectly suitable for DNA sampling and called the exhumation request "completely unnecessary".

Mr Rochester is buried near his home in Chester-le-Street.


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