Entries in Death (25)


Russian Oligarch Boris Berezovsky’s Death ‘Unexplained’

Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Russian oligarch Boris Berezovsky was not killed by chemical or radioactive material, British police said Sunday, but are still calling the 67-year-old’s death unexplained.

Berezovsky, once one of Russia’s most visible and wealthiest men, was found dead Saturday at his home in Ascot, England, where he had been living since he left his homeland in 2000 as President Vladimir Putin’s government was moving to bring criminal charges against him.

Thames Valley Police Scenes of Crime officers were carrying out a forensic investigation Sunday at Berezovsky’s estate.

“We are at the early stages of the investigation and we are retaining an open mind as we progress,” Detective Chief Inspector Kevin Brown, the deputy senior investigating officer in the case, said.

“The investigation team are building a picture of the last days of Mr. Berezovsky’s life, speaking to close friends and family to gain a better understanding of his state of mind. We are acutely aware of the level of interest into his death and are focused on conducting a thorough investigation as we would with any unexplained death.”

News of Berezovsky’s death sparked speculation that he might have been killed like ex-KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko, who died in 2006 after he was poisoned with polonium-210 while drinking tea at a London meeting.

Berezovsky openly accused Russian President Putin of personal involvement in the ex-spy’s killing, and on his deathbed, Litvinenko blamed Putin for his death.

A year after Litvinenko’s death, Berezovsky said Scotland Yard had warned him about a plot on his life, but British police never confirmed his claim.

Police Sunday said any speculation about Berezovsky’s death would be premature.

“It would be wrong to speculate on the cause of death until the post-mortem has been carried out,” he said. “We do not have any evidence at this stage to suggest third-party involvement.”

Police went to Berezovsky’s home Saturday after receiving a phone call from an ambulance service that a man had been found dead at the Ascot home.

One of Berezovsky’s employees told police he had called the ambulance service after finding the Russian’s lifeless body on the floor of a bathroom. He said he’d become concerned because he hadn’t seen Berezovsky since 10:30 the night before, and began searching the house. When he found the locked bathroom door, he forced it open and found Berezovsky, police said.

A paramedic with the ambulance service declared Berezovsky dead, police said.

Berezovsky was a supporter of former Russian President Boris Yeltsin, and quickly came into conflict with Putin, Yeltsin’s successor.

He accused Putin’s government of involvement in the apartment house bombings in Moscow and two other Russian cities that the government blamed on Chechen terrorists and used as a pretext for Russian troops to sweep into Chechnya for the second war there in half a decade.

When Russian authorities began moving to bring fraud, embezzlement, money laundering and other charges against him, Berezovsky said the criminal investigation was politically motivated, and he fled to Great Britain. Moscow sought his extradition, but the British refused.

Berezovsky continued to fund Russian opposition groups, in 2007 claiming he had given as much as $400 million to various organizations over the years, and even Sunday a presidential spokesman said Putin considered Berezovsky an enemy.

“We know for certain that he spared no expense in support of processes, within Russia and beyond, that could be said to have been directed against Russia and Putin,” spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on the independent cable television channel Rain. “He definitely was Putin’s opponent and, unfortunately, not only his political opponent, but most likely in other dimensions as well.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Famous French Lawyer's Body Found Washed up on Shore

Hemera/Thinkstock(PARIS) -- One of France's most notable lawyers was found dead of an apparent suicide on Sunday.

Olivier Metzner's body was found at about 9:00 a.m. Sunday, floating off the shore of an island that he owned in Brittany's Bay of Morbihan. Metzner left behind a note, a spokeswoman for the prosecutor's office told Bloomberg News.

The 63-year-old Metzner represented a number of high-profile clients during his career, including former French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin. He also defended Continental Airlines in the case of the Concorde crash in 2000.

According to Bloomberg, Metzner began his career defending gang members and gained notoriety by getting his clients freed on technicalities. Financial law was considered his expertise.

The results of an autopsy will be announced on Monday, according to Bloomberg.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Sarai Sierra: Body of Missing American Mom Reportedly Found in Turkey

Courtesy Sarai Sierra's family(NEW YORK) -- The body of an American woman who went missing while on a solo trip to Turkey has been found in Istanbul, and nine people have been held for questioning, according to local media.

Sarai Sierra, 33, was last heard from on Jan. 21, the day she was due to board a flight home to New York City.

The state-run Andolu Agency reported that residents found a woman's body Saturday near the ruins of some ancient city walls in a low-income district, and police identified the body as Sierra.

Rep. Michael Grimm, R-NY, who with his staff had been assisting the Sierra family in the search, said he was "deeply saddened" to hear the news of her death.

"I urge Turkish officials to move quickly to identify whomever is responsible for her tragic death and ensure that any guilty parties are punished to the fullest extent of the law," he said in a statement.

The New York City mother, who has two young boys, traveled to Turkey alone on Jan. 7 after a friend had to cancel. Sierra, who is an avid photographer with a popular Instagram stream, planned to document her dream vacation with her camera.

"It was her first time outside of the United States, and every day while she was there she pretty much kept in contact with us, letting us know what she was up to, where she was going, whether it be through texting or whether it be through video chat, she was touching base with us," Steven Sierra told ABC News before he departed for Istanbul last Sunday to aid in the search.

Steven Sierra has been in the country, meeting with U.S. officials and local authorities, as they searched for his wife.

On Friday, Turkish authorities detained a man who had spoken with Sierra online before her disappearance. The identity of the man and the details of his arrest were not disclosed, The Associated Press reported.

The family said it is completely out of character for the happily married mother, who met her husband in church youth group, to disappear.

She took two side trips, to Amsterdam and Munich, before returning to Turkey, but kept in contact with her family the entire time, a family friend told ABC News.

Further investigation revealed she had left her passport, clothes, phone chargers and medical cards in her room at a hostel in Beyoglu, Turkey.


Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Security Guard Killed from Bombing Outside of the US Embassy in Turkey Identified

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(ANKARA, Turkey) -- U.S. Ambassador to Turkey Francis Ricciardone said on Saturday that Mustafa Akarsu died a hero for protecting the U.S. embassy and saved his American and Turkish colleagues from a suicide bomber.

Akarsu was the only person killed from the embassy by a suicide attack that occurred on Friday, and he worked as a security guard for the U.S. embassy for more than 20 years, according to Ricciardone.

Hundreds attended Akarsu’s funeral on Saturday, including a dozen members of the U.S. embassy.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Radio Pranksters Pulled Off Air After Nurse's Death

HotAustralian DJs Mel Greig and Michael Christian have been pulled off the air until further notice. (Hot30 Countdown/Facebook)(LONDON) -- The two Australian radio hosts who prank-called the hospital where Kate Middleton was being treated have been pulled off the air "until further notice" after the hoaxed nurse was found dead Friday.

"Southern Cross Austereo (SCA) and 2Day FM are deeply saddened by the tragic news of the death of nurse Jacintha Saldanha from King Edward VII's Hospital and we extend our deepest sympathies to her family and all that have been affected by this situation around the world," the radio station said in a statement posted on their Facebook page.

The station's chief executive spoke with the DJs, Mel Greig and Michael Christian, and "they are both deeply shocked," the statement said. The parties agreed that the hosts would not comment on the situation.

"SCA and the hosts have decided that they will not return to their radio show until further notice out of respect for what can only be described as a tragedy," the statement said.

In the Tuesday morning prank call, information about the duchess' condition was released by a nurse to Greig and Christian when they pretended to be Queen Elizabeth and Prince Charles looking to speak to Middleton, who was being treated at the hospital for acute nausea related to her pregnancy.

When the royal impersonators called the hospital, Saldanha put through to a second nurse who told the royal impersonators that Kate was "quite stable" and hadn't "had any retching."

"It is with very deep sadness that we confirm the tragic death of a member of our nursing staff," the hospital said in a statement released Friday.

"We can confirm that Jacintha was recently the victim of a hoax call to the hospital," the statement said. "The hospital had been supporting her throughout this difficult time."

The hospital said that Saldanha worked at the hospital for more than four years. They called her a "first-class nurse" and "a well-respected and popular member of the staff."

The hospital extended their "deepest sympathies" to family and friends, saying that "everyone is shocked" at this "tragic event."

"She will be greatly missed," the hospital said.

"The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are deeply saddened to learn of the death of Jacintha Saldanha," a spokesman from St. James Palace said in a statement.

"Their Royal Highnesses were looked after so wonderfully well at all times by everybody at King Edward VII Hospital, and their thoughts and prayers are with Jacintha Saldanha's family, friends and colleagues at this very sad time," the statement said.

Police were called to an address near the hospital at about 9:35 a.m. GT Friday to "reports of a woman found unconscious," according to a statement from Scotland Yard.

The woman was pronounced dead at the scene. "Inquiries continue to establish the circumstances of the incident. Next of kin have been informed," the statement said.

Circumstances of the death being investigated, but are not suspicious at this stage, according to police.

The duchess spent three days at the hospital undergoing treatment for hyperemesis gravidarum, severe or debilitating nausea and vomiting. She was released from the hospital on Thursday morning.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Guantanamo Inmate Who Died Identified as Yemeni

John Moore/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- The Guantanamo detainee who died this weekend was a 32-year-old Yemeni who had been held at the U.S. detention camp in Cuba ever since it was established a decade ago in January 2002, and whom human rights activists called "the face of indefinite detention at Guantanamo."

Joint Task Force Guantanamo identified the detainee as Adnan Farhan Abdul Latif from Yemen. His name had been withheld pending family notification of his passing.

Latif had been found unconscious and unresponsive in his cell on Saturday and was declared dead after what were characterized as "extensive lifesaving measures" were performed to revive him.

Investigators from the Naval Criminal Investigative Service are looking at the circumstances surrounding his death. A release by JTF-Guantanamo said an autopsy had been conducted, but said the results and determining a cause of death "take time."

Captured by Pakistan along the border with Afghanistan, Latif arrived at the newly established camp at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba in January 2002 shortly after it had been established as Camp X-Ray. The facility was initially designed for the temporary detention of enemy combatants captured on the battlefields of the War on Terror, but eventually became the permanent detention facility for terrorism suspects.

Latif had pressed his legal status in U.S. civilian courts and reached the Supreme Court, where his case was rejected this past June. While he was alleged to have been an al Qaeda-trained fighter, the Department of Defense issued an opinion in 2004 that he was "not known to have participated in combatant/terrorist training." Latif was recommended for transfer to his home country twice by the military panels set up to review the cases of detainees. However, those recommendations were never acted upon.

The Center for Constitutional Rights, a legal advocacy group that represents many of the detainees at Guantanamo, issued a statement Tuesday that said Latif was "innocent of any wrongdoing that would have justified his detention."

"Adnan Latif is the human face of indefinite detention at Guantanamo," said the statement, "a policy President Obama now owns."

"President Obama's Justice Department knew he was innocent but appealed a district court order directing his release rather than send him home to Yemen," said the CCR. "The president has imposed a moratorium on all transfers to Yemen, which is why more than half of the remaining detainees are Yemenis. … Adnan Latif was held indefinitely and ultimately for life because of his Yemeni citizenship, not his conduct."

Since the camp was opened in 2002 eight other detainees have died while in custody -- six from suicides and the other two from natural causes. The most recent death was in 2011. Latif's death means there are now 167 detainees at the camp, which at its height held 779 detainees. A third of the detainees still at Guantanamo -- 55 men -- are Yemeni.

Latif, who contributed to a 2007 book of poetry by detainees, was one of several "Gitmo" detainees who have been participating in hunger strikes, which have been going on at the camp for years.

He had ended his hunger strike on June 1 and had recouped 95 percent of his body weight. Hunger strikers at the camp are routinely force-fed by medical personnel. A Defense Department official says that the hunger strikes are more of a political act than a physical act as many take their liquid nutrient feeds willingly and assist medical personnel with the insertion of the food tubes that force-feed them.

Latif had been disciplined following a recent "splashing" incident and was being housed in a maximum security facility at Guantanamo. He had allegedly assaulted a guard with a "cocktail," meaning he had allegedly thrown liquid at the guard. "Cocktails" are often concocted from feces, urine and other bodily fluids.

The release from JTF-Guantanamo says Latif's remains are being treated with respect for Islamic culture and traditions. They will be repatriated to Yemen.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Lawsuit Against Military Contractor in Soldier's Electrocution Death Tossed

Hemera/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The mother of a U.S. soldier electrocuted in his barracks shower while stationed in Iraq has vowed to keep a lawsuit alive against military contractor KBR, which she blames for installing the substandard electrical system that killed her son.

Cheryl Maseth's case against KBR, formerly owned by Halliburton, was tossed out by a federal judge on Monday.

According to U.S. District Judge Nora Barry Fischer, it was the military commanders at Staff Sgt. Ryan Maseth's Army base who determined the locations of barracks and whether the electrical systems were up to standard.

Ryan Maseth was taking a shower in 2008 when he was electrocuted in the shower.  His death occurred when an improperly grounded water pump electrified his shower water.

After Judge Fischer's decision, Cheryl Maseth's lawyers said they would take the case to the 3rd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Philadelphia.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Canadian Sisters Suffer Gruesome Death in Thai Hotel Room

Mark Wilson/Getty Images(KRABI, Thailand) -- Two Canadian sisters were found dead in their hotel room on a popular tourist island in Thailand, and the cause of their mysterious deaths is unknown.

The women's bodies were found in gruesome conditions, reportedly with large quantities of vomit and skin lesions, authorities said.

Noemi Belanger, 25, and Audrey Belanger, 20, of Quebec, were found dead in their room at the Phi Phi Palm Residence Hotel on the Phi Phi Island in the Krabi province on Friday.

Thai newspapers have reported that eating blowfish or poisonous mushrooms could have caused the deaths, but police say the cause of death is still unknown.

The sisters reportedly did not appear to have been murdered and that their belongings were not taken.

The sisters checked into the hotel on Tuesday and a hotel maid reportedly told Thai newspapers that she did not clean their room on Wednesday and Thursday because she believed they were inside. What she eventually entered to was a grisly scene.

Authorities found a large quantity of vomit, evidence of bleeding and that the women's nails had turned black, Dr. Pornthep Siriwanarangsan, director general of Disease Control Department, told Bangkok newspaper The Nation.

Thai police referred ABC News to the Canadian embassy in Bangkok, which was closed for the day. The Phi Phi Palm Residence Hotel did not respond to request for comment.

A team of investigators carefully searched the room on Sunday and the bodies will be sent to the Central Forensic Institute of Bangkok for examination.

Members of the Belanger family could not be reached for comment over the phone, but one relative, Frederick Belanger, posted on Facebook that the family was "baffled" by the tragic deaths.

In 2009, an American woman and a Norwegian woman died the same weekend on Phi Phi Island and experienced similar symptoms including vomiting and extreme weakness. Both women died at a hospital where doctors said shock and dehydration caused the deaths.

The families have said that they still do not know what caused the violent illnesses.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obese Dead Woman’s Body Fat Causes Crematorium Blaze

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Investigators say a fire that nearly destroyed an Austrian crematorium began when the excessive body fat of an obese dead woman clogged the facility’s air filters, causing overheating that resulted in the blaze.

Officials determined that the fire, which occurred mid-April at a crematorium in the city of Graz, was caused by the burning corpse of the 440-pound woman.  The body was being cremated when the blaze began, the Daily Mail reported.

Firefighters who were combating the blaze had their protective clothing covered in a layer of greasy soot, the newspaper also said.

“Crematorium officials need to be more responsible and not just automatically put everybody in to be cremated,” Graz-based fireman Otto Widetschek said, according to the paper.

Similar fires caused by the cremation of obese bodies have been reported in Switzerland. That country apparently has special extra-large facilities to handle the cremation of obese bodies, Widetschek said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Mystery Deepens in Bizarre British Spy Death Case

Joseph Devenney/Getty Images(LONDON) -- Of the myriad of questions surrounding the case of the British code breaker who was found naked and stuffed into a duffle bag in 2010, expert witnesses on Friday gave at least one answer: he most likely didn't put himself in there.

Gareth Williams, who worked for the British Secret Intelligence Service, or MI6, was discovered nude inside a padlocked duffle bag that had been placed in the bathtub of his London apartment in 2010. After a nearly two-year investigation, Scotland Yard has been unable to solve the case.

A new courthouse inquest is readdressing the case and Friday video footage was shown of two experts attempting -- and failing -- to lock themselves into a bag identical to the one in which Gareth Williams was found.

Peter Faulding, an expert in rescue from confined spaces, said Friday he failed to lock himself into the bag after 300 attempts.

"I couldn't say it's impossible, but I think even Houdini would have struggled with this one," he said. "My conclusion is that Mr. Williams was either placed in the bag unconscious, or he was dead before he was in the bag."

A second expert, yoga specialist William MacKay, also failed in the task, but refused to completely rule out the possibility that the spy had locked himself in the bag unaided.

Police said they have found evidence on a phone belonging to Williams of very occasional visits to bondage websites. Examination of his computer also showed he had visited websites about claustrophilia or the love of enclosure, the inquest has heard. No classified information was found at his apartment. A fellow spy told the hearing that an internal review had concluded that Williams' death was not connected to his work.

Police said thousands of dollars worth of women's designer clothes were discovered at his apartment, as well as wigs and makeup. Two friends of the dead man have testified that, to their knowledge, Williams had no interest in cross-dressing.

The inquest has been told by police that there was no indication of a break-in at the apartment, and nothing to suggest evidence at the scene was destroyed. Williams' body showed no signs of struggle, drugs, or poison. Detective Chief Inspector Jackie Sebire said police had been working under the assumption that the spy would have been unable to enter and lock the bag by himself, and that a third party must have been involved. She revealed on Tuesday that "two minor components of another contributor's DNA" were found on the zip toggle and padlock. Williams' family has said they believe another person must have been involved in his death.

Crucial forensic evidence may have been lost because it took a week for detectives to visit the apartment after the code breaker failed to show up to work at the headquarters of Britain's intelligence service in mid-August 2010. MI6 have blamed a "breakdown in communication" for the delay in raising the alarm.

Williams was working in London after being seconded to the British spy agency by GCHQ, Britain's secret electronic surveillance agency, where he had previously been employed. His former boss at GCHQ, Stephen Gale, told the inquest he was a "world class intelligence officer."

"He was considered something of a prodigy," Gale said.

His manager at MI6 has called him "a fully deployable, highly talented officer" who had passed exams to do some of MI6's toughest covert work six months before he was found dead.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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