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Kelly's last moments to be examined

07:29, Sep 2 2003

By Katherine Baldwin

LONDON (Reuters) - The inquiry into the death of weapons expert David Kelly who killed himself after becoming embroiled in a row over the Iraq war will be given more insight on Tuesday into his state of mind before the suicide.

Scientist David Kelly slashed his wrist in July after being named as the source of a BBC report that claimed the government had exaggerated the threat from Iraq to justify the war.

The inquiry, chaired by senior judge Lord Hutton, heard moving testimony on Monday from Kelly's wife, Janice, who described the "nightmare" of the days before his death and said her husband had felt betrayed and belittled by the government.

On Tuesday, Hutton is scheduled to hear testimony from Kelly's doctor, his psychiatrist and a fellow follower of the Baha'i faith, a religion which preaches universal peace to which Kelly had converted.

Janice Kelly on Monday blamed the government of Prime Minister Tony Blair for the despair and betrayal that shaped the final days of her husband's life.

"He said...he felt totally let down and betrayed," said Janice Kelly, speaking via audio link to avoid the media spotlight.

Asked by whom he had felt betrayed, she said: "I believed he meant the MoD (Ministry of Defence) because they were the ones who had effectively let his name be known in the public domain."

Kelly's death and the failure to find any weapons of mass destruction in Iraq has plunged Blair's administration into its worst ever crisis and sent the prime minister's popularity ratings plunging.

Janice Kelly told the inquiry of her husband's dismay when he learned that his name was to be made public by the MoD, despite earlier assurances to the contrary.

After he was named, Kelly was dragged into the public eye and grilled by a committee of politicians. Two days later, Kelly, 59, slit his wrist.

Janice Kelly, 58, said her husband, a former United Nations weapons inspector who had made dozens of trips to Iraq, was also dismayed that government officials described him as a middle ranking official or a junior.

"He was deeply, deeply hurt. He was being treated rather like a fly, I think that was the phrase he used," she said.

She said he was in torment in the days before and after his televised grilling at the hands of the parliamentary committee.

"I'd never known him to be as unhappy as he was then," she said.

Speaking about the day before Kelly was found dead, she said: "I was physically sick several times at this stage because he looked so desperate. He looked distracted and dejected. I just thought he had a broken heart."

Hutton will also hear testimony on Tuesday from an ambulance man and police officers who were involved in locating Kelly's body, in a wood near his Oxfordshire home.

©Copyright 2003, Mirror (UK)

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