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Second Gatti autopsy reveals unexpected details

The Canadian Press

8/2/2009 9:32:45 AM

MONTREAL -- Bruising on the body of slain fighter Arturo Gatti was overlooked by the Brazilian authorities who conducted the initial autopsy, a celebrity pathologist hired by the ex-boxing champ's family said Saturday after a seven-hour forensic follow-up.

"There were some surprises," Dr. Michael Baden said in an interview with The Canadian Press.

"The first surprise was that it was a partial autopsy, and not a full autopsy; the second was that there were some important findings, like the injuries that had not been identified."

Brazilian authorities said earlier this week that Gatti had committed suicide at a resort in the northeastern part of the country on July 11. His 23-year-old Brazilian wife, Amanda Rodrigues, was released Friday after being held for nearly three weeks on suspicion of murder.

Partial autopsies are unusual in suspected homicides, said Baden, who described the overlooked injuries as bruises that weren't cited in the initial forensic report.

Baden, who assisted in the autopsy at the family's request, said the Montreal medical examiners will perform further toxicology tests in Canada and are also awaiting more information on the scene of death from investigators in Brazil.

"There were definite injuries that had not been seen by Brazilian authorities," Baden said.

"But one needs all of the information -- including the toxicology, which is not available yet -- to be able to come to the conclusion as to whether it's homicide or suicide."

Second autopsies often take longer than the first but have the advantage of fresh information, he added. "We had a better idea of what to look for because of the issues that have been raised."

Baden will continue to share information with the Montreal medical examiners overseeing the latest investigation into Gatti'sdeath.

The two Canadian pathologists, described by Baden as "first-rate," will evaluate the additional information before releasing a report on the ex-boxer's death in the coming weeks.

Baden, a U.S. pathologist, is no stranger to high-profile cases. He's the host of the HBO cable TV show "Autopsy," a popular documentary series investigating mysterious and controversial deaths.

Baden has also testified for the defence or prosecution in a number of celebrity cases, including the criminal trials of O.J. Simpson and Phil Spector. He recently performed the second autopsy on the late Hollywood actor David Carradine.

Brazilian police said Friday that Gatti hanged himself with a bag strap that he tied around a wooden staircase column more than two metres off the ground, looping it around his neck before stepping off a stool.

That conclusion was rejected by Gatti's friends and family, who asked a Quebec coroner to exhume the body, which was buried July 20 in Montreal.

Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon said the government also formally asked Brazilian authorities for more information on the investigation into Gatti's death.

Gatti, a Montreal native who held two world titles in his 16-year pro career, retired in 2007 with a record of 40-9.