Academic Forensic Pathology

The Official Publication of the National Association of Medical Examiners

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Title: The Dead Detainee: The Autopsy in Cases of Torture
Author(s): Pollanen Michael S.
Citation: Acad Forensic Pathol. 2017 Aug; 7(3):340-352.
Type: Invited Review
Keywords: Forensic pathology Postmortem Torture Autopsy
Abstract: The fatal maltreatment of people that are detained against their will, such as political prisoners and suspected terrorists, can occur in unstable countries. The death of such detainees is often controversial and debated in the media, legal tribunals, and communities. Therefore, there is a need for nonpartisan information about the cause of death of prisoners due to the implications that the data may have about a conclusion that human rights were abused. Autopsies are the only scientific way to prove the cause of death of detainees and to ascertain the truth behind how injuries may have occurred. On this basis, all forensic pathologists ought to be able to interpret the basic injury patterns commonly encountered in torture. The injuries are similar to those found in child abuse, but also include trauma from suspension and “homicide by heart attack” during interrogation. This paper will review the postmortem findings in cases of torture. Acad
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