US expert on Russian former press minister death: “I've never seen a fractured hyoid bone on someone who's falling around drunk”
The former Russian Minister of the Press and the former Gazprom Media chief had a neck fracture, hemorrhage in the soft parts of the neck, dilation of brain vessels, bruises and numerous cuts in the legs, hands, face, chest and skull.
The report on the death of the former Press Minister of the Russian Federation and the former head of Gazprom Media, Mikhail Lesin, became available to the press. Earlier, a Washington court ordered the city medical examiner to publish "dozens of autopsy protocols" and other investigation materials in the case, thus satisfying the claim of Radio Liberty under the American Freedom of Information Act.
As the newspaper notes, the 149-page report lists the injuries that Lesin received during his stay at the Washington Dupont Circle hotel. His body was found on November 5, 2015.
Third-party experts who analyzed the document concluded that the injuries are not typical of an accident: a fracture of the hyoid bone, which tends to result from asphyxiation, hemorrhage in the soft parts of the neck, dilated brain vessels, bruises, numerous cuts in the legs, arms, face, chest and skull.
According to a former New Hampshire forensic examiner, Tom Andrews, interviewed by Radio Liberty, this is an unusual case since the injuries are too serious, even for an intoxicated person. The expert said that such injuries may indicate both an accident and a fall or a series of falls resulting from the use of force. The hyoid bone is a much-protected thing, he said, and in order to break it, one has to fall on a sharp object or get a blow to the neck area.
“I've done 12,000 autopsies over my career,' said Donald Jason, a forensic pathology consultant and retired professor from Wake Forest University School of Medicine in North Carolina. “I've never seen a fractured hyoid bone on someone who's falling around drunk.” The expert added that Lesin could have been beaten or tortured, since the report said that he had a knee injury. However, the former official could have received such damage in the fall, he said.
In addition, the experts who studied the document came to the conclusion that Lesin had not died immediately and could have been in a coma for a while before he was found dead. The security guard and the manager of Dupont Circle were doing a welfare check at the hotel when they saw the former press minister unconscious in his room on the carpet, face down. He was alive then. After unsuccessfully trying to wake up the guest, the hotel staff left his room.
Meanwhile, according to the police and the FBI, a disk with a hidden video footage from Lesin’s room was damaged, which makes it impossible to find out what was going on in the room when the former official was unconscious after the hotel staff left.
The document did not shed light on the causes of the death either. The only thing that all the experts interviewed by Radio Liberty agree on is that the original theory is wrong. According to that theory, Lesin was beaten to death with a baseball bat or another similarly shaped item. All the experts also agree that the circumstances of the death should still be considered “uncertain”.
The Prosecutor General's Office had earlier accused the Moscow region’s ex-official of exceeding official authority, taking a bribe on an especially large scale, and forgery, and demanded to seize assets worth of 9 billion rubles ($135 million) from him.