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Bones of Australian bushranger Ned Kelly are identified

posted 1 Sept 2011, 03:39 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 1 Sept 2011, 03:42 ]
Australian authorities identify the remains of bushranger Ned Kelly, 131 years after he was hanged for murder.

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA (SEPTEMBER 1, 2011) ABC AUSTRALIA -  Australian authorities have recently identified the remains of bushranger Ned Kelly, 131 years after the iconic outcast was hanged for murder and his body buried in the yard of a Melbourne gaol.

But mystery remains over the location of Kelly's skull, which was last thought to have sat on the desk of a Victorian state police detective in 1929.

Kelly, known for wearing home-made armour in a shootout with police, is an iconic figure in Australian history.

Kelly and his gang symbolized social tensions of the time, particularly between poor Irish settlers and the wealthy establishment.

He was sentenced to death for murder over his gang's killing of three policemen, and he was hanged in Melbourne Gaol on November 11, 1880.

Scientists have used DNA from Kelly's great great nephew Leigh Olver, to identify the bushranger's bones from others in a mass prison grave.

Olver said Kelly was a big part of Australia's history.

"I'm very proud of my heritage. But I think a lot of Australians are connected to Ned Kelly and they're proud of the heritage that has developed," he said.

After his death, Kelly's body was buried in the grounds of the old Melbourne Gaol and a death mask was made from his head.

When the gaol closed in 1929, Kelly's remains and the bones of other prisoners were exhumed and re-buried in a mass grave at the newer Pentridge Prison.

Kelly's skull may have been separated from his skeleton during the transfer.

The mass grave was excavated again in 2009, sparking the quest to identify which bones belonged to Kelly.