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...Defence chief steers clear of debate over post-mortems

CHIEF of Defence Staff Brigadier Kenrick Maharaj yesterday said he would not be pulled into the ongoing debate over the conflicting autopsies of deceased soldier, Lance Corporal Curtis Marshall.

An autopsy conducted by pathologist Dr Eslyn McDonald-Burris stated Marshall's death was due to strangulation.

The autopsy was co-signed by pathologist Dr Valery Alexandrov.

The preliminary results of a second autopsy conducted by Dr Hubert Daisley confirmed the results of the first autopsy.

The preliminary results corroborated McDonald-Burris's findings that Marshall's death was due to strangulation.

Daisley's preliminary results also stated that Marshall sustained several blows to the back of his head.

As a result, all those who were on duty at Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force Headquarters in Chaguaramas the night of Marshall's death were ordered to return to the base as a homicide investigation by the police had commenced.

But Daisley conducted further tests on Marshall which forced his funeral service to be postponed.

Following this, Daisley told the Marshall family that his preliminary findings, which stated that Marshall was murdered, were wrong.

He said Marshall died of an asthma attack.

Then Alexandrov conducted a further autopsy on Marshall and reiterated that the soldier died of strangulation.

Despite all the controversy over his autopsy, Marshall was yesterday laid to rest under full military rites.

Speaking following the funeral service, Maharaj said he did not want to get pulled into the autopsy controversy.

"It has now become a debate between the pathologists and I will not get into that debate. The fact is, at the end of the day, there are issues that have to be resolved and I respect at the end of the day what the findings are."

"The fact is the brotherhood of the army...this has never happened in the history of our 50 years. There has never been a case of soldiers murdering soldiers and so on. We have had accidental deaths, we have never had this, this is not the way we live as a family.

"The military is not that. The military is a close-knit organisation so we felt the pain the family felt, we felt that same feeling of loss and pain and emotion, but we have had to be professional to manage it, to ensure the family was not subject to any unnecessary emotional stress," Maharaj said.

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