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Saturday, 13 April, 2002, 16:38 GMT 17:38 UK
Forensic expert flies to war zone
Soldier and boys
Prof Pounder says he wants to get to the facts
A forensic expert from a Scottish university is due to fly out to the Middle East to examine bodies of Palestinians killed in recent fighting.

Professor Derrick Pounder is part of a delegation from human rights body Amnesty International which says it wants to establish the facts surrounding deaths in the West Bank.

The Dundee University academic has been out to the war-torn region on previous occasions, but his trip to Israel on Saturday will be his most risky.

Professionally you can detach yourself when examining a body, but it is dealing with the families which is the hardest thing to do

Professor Derrick Pounder
forensic expert
Prof Pounder has been asked to ascertain whether Palestinian deaths resulted from general fighting or were extra-judicial killings by the Israeli military.

He will examine gunshot wounds and other injuries on the corpses and make interpretations as to the circumstances of the deaths.

Prof Pounder said: "There are a lot of allegations flying about the Middle East, but there is a big shortage of facts."

He added: "We are hoping to gain the access we need, but ultimately that will be up to the Israeli military.

"They have been courteous in the past and we are hoping they will be courteous this time.

Tight security

"Although we are unsure about access to the areas where the bodies are, the bodies themselves are the possession of their families and it will be up to them to give permission for us to carry out our examinations."

Prof Pounder has been on similar missions to war-torn regions with Amnesty International and other human rights organisations.

One such trip was to Chechnya where security was extremely tight.

Prof Derrick Pounder
Derrick Pounder: Hoping to establish the facts

The forensic expert said: "There are security issues this time, but of course it is not worth risking anyone's life to examine a corpse."

Prof Pounder, who has been a lecturer at Dundee University since 1987, said doing work in war-torn countries was "part of his job".

But he added: "Professionally you can detach yourself when examining a body, but it is dealing with the families which is the hardest thing to do.

"That kind of experience stays with you."

The results of Amnesty International's Middle East mission will form part of its campaign to halt the bloodshed in the West Bank.

Liv Casben reports
"Professor Pounder hopes the team will get access"
See also:

12 Apr 02 | Middle East
Suicide blast rocks central Jerusalem
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