Thursday, November 1, 2007

Who Killed Duncan MacPherson?

News Report:



Hi Roger,

We have no problem with the headline you chose; and please don't feel you are out of line in asking us anything. We appreciate your interest, and your support; and, as far as we are concerned, the more people that hear the story, the better. It is not a mater of IF someone else dies on this ski slope in similar circumstances; it is only a matter of WHEN, if indeed, it has not already occurred, while authorities turn a blind eye, and allow the ski operator to operate a summer ski operation, with seemingly no restrictions.

For fourteen years, the ski operator, fully supported by police, insisted that "absolutely nothing could happen to Duncan on the licensed ski slope"; the ski operator, fully supported by police, insisted the rented snowboard and boots had been returned, but could not provide supporting evidence.

For fourteen years, we were forced to live with their lies. When Duncan's body was found in 2003, we were relieved, because we believed that finally, with the body as evidence, authorities would have to conduct an effective investigation of death, and we would learn how/why Duncan died. We were wrong to make that assumption, and we were wrong to place our trust in authorities. Police lied about the location of the death site (placing Duncan outside the controlled ski area), and lied about the circumstances ("plunged with his snowboard into the free skiing area"). They refused to conduct an autopsy, but then falsified the death certificate, stating an autopsy had been conducted. Then, four days after we had been notified of the death, and just hours before our arrival in Innsbruck, they ordered the removal of his upper and lower jaws, for what they said was identification purposes. Thank goodness the pathologist refused to do this unnecessary and unethical procedure. As a parent, there is not much left after your child is dead, other than to be with them to say goodbye. I think if they had have succeeded in their attempt to mutilate Duncan's body, I would probably have killed someone!

The ski operator buried Duncan in 1989; police, coroner, prosecutor, and Minister of Justice buried the facts in 2003. In fact, there was NO investigation of death.

Inasmuch as it is a tragedy Duncan lost his life while innocently snowboarding on a ski slope which is licensed and regulated by state authorities, equally as tragic, and unjust, is the fact his death was not investigated. As bad as it is for the ski operator to have covered up the accident, in our view, it is far more serious when state authorities are complicit in the cover up.

In May 2006, we sent a detailed appeal to the Minister of Justice, requesting a re-opening of the investigation of death. As you know, she refused, defending the actions of authorities in carrying out the investigation of death, and defending the ski operator.

I have spent the past year, putting together an application to the European Court of Human Rights (Strasbourg, France), claiming violation of Article 2 (Right to Life), and Article 13 (Right to Effective Remedy. I was unable to research Austrian law because of my inability to communicate in German. However, I did do quite a lot or research through the UK website on Human Rights issues. It seems the ECHR gives a wide interpretation of "Right to Life", and includes in it the right to an effective investigation of death which occurs in suspicious circumstances in a regulated setting. In my mind, there is no question Duncan's death was "suspicious"; no question his death occurred in a state-regulated setting; and no question that his death was not investigated. So I am hopeful that I am able to convince the Court that the case needs to be heard. I understand it could take a while before the Court examines our documentation - - the wheels of justice turn slowly! Once they have reviewed it, they rule on whether it is admissible, and then whether it has merit. I hope it is before I am in a nursing home!

Some people ask why we do this, why we put ourselves through the work, frustration, stress, etc. I would say as much as anything, it is Duncan's spirit that drives it. I remember during his hockey-playing days, and how I'd always tell him that I wished he would not get into fights. His response was that I did not understand that there were times when you had to fight - to stand up for yourself, or your teammates; and that whether you "won" the fight was irrelevant, but it was important that you "show up".

So, while I recognize I am taking on the entire Austrian tourist industry, and my chances of "winning" against these formidable forces are slim, I feel it is important to "show up". As Duncan used to say, "The only time you fail, is if you don't try".

As to your question as to what we want - we don't want Duncan's death covered up; he has a right to an effective investigation of his death. We don't want anyone else to needlessly lose their life on this ski slope, all for the sake of "business". I wish there was a way to hold the ski operator accountable for Duncan's death, but, when he has the entire system covering for him, that is just not possible. As we see it, our only hope for any justice is to attempt to hold authorities to account for their complicity in the cover up of the facts related to Duncan's death.

The hockey community, and the media, have been our sole source of support throughout the eighteen years. I don't know if you know, but without the help of the hockey community, it is questionable as to if, or when, we would have located Duncan's car.

By the way, Roger Kortko lives here (has four daughters). He was interviewed for the Fifth Estate program (he lived with Duncan in Springfield in 1986-1987); I guess his interview was very good, but there just wasn't time within the program to air it. Duncan spent his last night with Roger and Donna in Fussen, Germany.

I have thought about contacting American media - "60 Minutes, and/or Dateline. Any thoughts on this?

No, we don't have any snow yet - in fact, it is the warmest Halloween I can remember - 11C! Our son lives in Vancouver, and usually rubs it in about how much better weather they have, but this year, he hasn't been able to do that! But, I'm sure that we will get the sow, and te cold weather soon enough!

We welcome any suggestions, advice, input you may be able to offer.

Thank you for contacting us, and for caring,


lynda and bob

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