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Blair, aides to be grilled in scientist suicide probe


LONDON - Prime Minister Tony Blair and two top aides will be called as witnesses in a probe of the death of the man revealed as the source of a news account accusing Blair's government of hyping intelligence to justify war with Iraq.

Weapons expert David Kelly's apparent suicide has rocked the Blair government and forced the embattled prime minister to face taunts about whether he has blood on his hands.

The 59-year-old Ministry of Defense scientist was found dead with a slit wrist July 18 - a day after he was grilled in a parliamentary hearing into the BBC's report about the "sexed-up" intelligence dossier.

The ministry fingered Kelly, who had been a weapons inspector in Iraq, as the BBC's source.

Defense Secretary Geoffrey Hoon is to testify at the inquiry, as is Blair's communications chief, Alastair Campbell. Blair offered to break off his Barbados vacation but is not expected to testify until September.

Lord Brian Hutton, the top judge in the probe, revealed that when Kelly's body was found, his watch and glasses had been removed - suggesting he prepared for suicide. But Hutton also said his probe would attempt to solve the mystery of why there were four electrocardiogram pads on Kelly's chest.

Hutton said he will call Andrew Gilligan, the BBC reporter who aired the dossier story; Kelly's widow, Janice; members of Parliament, medical and psychiatric experts, and an expert in the Bahai religion to explain how Kelly's belief in that faith may have influenced him.

Originally published on August 2, 2003

©Copyright 2003, Daily News (NY, USA)

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