Friday, Aug 1, 2008
The chief suspect in the 2001 anthrax postal attacks in the US has died from an apparent suicide just as the Justice Department was to file criminal charges against him.
Bruce Ivins, 62, one of America’s top biodefense researchers, had been told that he was going to be prosecuted for the attacks that killed five people and sent the country into panic in the aftermath of the 9/11 attacks on the Twin Towers. He died in hospital on Thursday after taking a huge dose of prescription Tylenol, a painkiller, mixed with codeine.
The scientist had worked at the the United States Army Medical Research Institute,(USAMRIID), the government’s elite biodefense research laboratories in Maryland for 18 years. He had played a pivotal role in research to improve anthrax vaccines, and during the attacks had helped the FBI analyse powdery material recovered from an envelope tainted with anthrax which had been sent to the Washington DC office of Tom Daschle, a US senator.
(Article continues below)
His imminent prosecution had not been made public but followed a government payout of $US5.82m (Pounds 2.9m) to a former government scientist, Steven Hatfill, who had been the FBI’s chief suspect for the anthrax attacks almost since the beginning. The payout to Hatfill, an unusual development that exonerated him of being the anthrax attacker was an essential step to clear the way for prosecuting Ivins, lawyers familiar with the case told the LA Times.
This article was posted: Friday, August 1, 2008 at 5:20 am