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Wednesday, 17 April, 2002, 13:22 GMT 14:22 UK
Forensic expert barred from Jenin
Professor Derrick Pounder
Prof Pounder wants to examine bodies at the camp
A Scottish forensic expert has been denied access to the Jenin refugee camp on the West Bank.

Professor Derrick Pounder, the head of forensic medicine at Dundee University, is in the Middle East as part of an Amnesty International team.

Their aim is to investigate the deaths of Palestinians during the recent fighting.

Amnesty said that Prof. Pounder's goal was to help determine the causes of death in an attempt to clarify what happened at Jenin.

Palestinians in Jenin
The area has seen heavy fighting

The organisation is now considering legal action in Israel in an effort to gain access to the camp.

The delegation travelled to the area after reports of a major humanitarian disaster.

Jenin has been the scene of the heaviest fighting in the Israeli military offensive on the West Bank.

The Palestinian Authority claims that Israeli troops killed hundreds of people in the camp.

However, the Israelis say the number of dead can be counted in dozens rather than hundreds and that many were militant fighters.

Gunshot wounds

Prof. Pounder has made previous trips to the war-torn region.

On his latest visit the academic is aiming to establish whether Palestinian deaths resulted from general fighting or were extra-judicial killings by the Israeli military.

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

Speaking before he left for the area, Prof. Pounder acknowledged that it would be up to the Israeli military whether or not he gained access to the area.

'Shortage of facts'

But he stressed: "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, who has been a lecturer at Dundee University since 1987, has been on similar missions to war-torn regions with Amnesty International and other human rights organisations.

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

See also:

16 Apr 02 | Middle East
Plea for access to devastated Jenin
13 Apr 02 | Scotland
Forensic expert flies to war zone
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