The investigation of a criminal case involving widely known German avant-guard artist Guenther von Hagens has been completed in Novosibirsk, a large scientific centre in Siberia. Hagens has gained fame by making sculptures that incorporate specially embalmed human corpses. The case was opened in the spring of 2001 when it became known that the material for such works was supplied from Russia.
Russian investigators established that the unorthodox deliveries were made under a contract between a private institute in Heidelberg, which is headed by von Hagens, and one of the Novosibirsk medical establishments. According to the local prosecutor's office, the German institute has received from Novosibirsk medics 56 corpses and 400 preparations made of brain tissue. Under the contract, human remains from Novosibirsk morgues were dispatched to Heidelberg to make "anatomical material", which was supposed to be used as study aids by Novosibirsk students.
Initial suspects in the case were 14 heads of medical institutions of the Novosibirsk region. Two of them have been officially indicted. Their names, in the interests of investigation, are being withheld. The prosecutor's office accuses the dealers in human remains of violating the law that prohibits using corpses for scientific purposes without consent of the dead person's relatives.
Under Russian legal practice, case materials have been handed over to the accused for familiarisation. After that the case will be brought before the court.