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Siberian court upholds verdict against corpse-smuggling professor

NOVOSIBIRSK, November 3 (RIA Novosti) - A Siberian court rejected on Friday the appeal of a medical professor convicted of smuggling dozens of corpses to a controversial German anatomist.

The presidium of the Novosibirsk regional court in western Siberia upheld the verdict of a lower court against Vladimir Novosyolov, who headed the region's forensic medical examination bureau.

The professor, who denies charges of smuggling bodies to German anatomist Gunther von Hagens, had appealed against the lower court's verdict requiring him to pay a fine, demanding that the ruling be reversed and the criminal case against him closed.

Investigations started in 2001, after the local prosecutor's office charged Novosyolov with the illegal shipment of 51 bodies to Dr von Hagens, who invented the plastination technique for conserving bodies, and developed of the Body Worlds exhibition of preserved corpses.

On June 17, 2005, a Novosibirsk district court found Novosyolov guilty on charges of abuse of authority and sentenced him to pay a 35,000 rubles (about $1,220) fine.

It was the third time the court has reviewed the case. During previous trials, held in November 2003 and July 2004, the judges acquitted the defendant, but prosecutors managed to convince higher courts to overrule the decisions in both cases.

The Novosibirsk regional court upheld the decision on August 22, 2005.

Charges against 14 top managers and medical personnel of several institutions in the region were dropped before the trial began. Novosyolov was the only one to go on trial as the alleged organizer of the sale.

The professor's defense lawyer insisted in court that Novosyolov had nothing to do with the smugglings.

Several relatives of the dead have been unsuccessfully trying to convince the authorities to bring the corpses back to Russia for proper burial. Dr von Hagens has not charged in the case.

Novosyolov said after Friday's court ruling that he would appeal the decision in Russia's Supreme Court.

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