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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Unofficial Examination Shows Body Not Cuny, U.S. Says

An unofficial examination indicates the body found last week in the Chechen village of Geldugin is not that of missing Soros Foundation consultant Frederick Cuny, a U.S. State Department spokeswoman said Thursday.


"Preliminary reports suggest that it isn't Cuny," Anne Johnson said.


"We're still tracking down other leads while the body is being identified."


However White House Press Secretary Mike McCurry said Thursday the original identification "has not been verified to the satisfaction of the family or the Soros Foundation at this point," Reuters reported.


A Soros Foundation spokesman in New York, H. Juergen Hess, could neither confirm nor deny the original reports, but said rumors suggest dental records had been compared and found not to match.


According to Johnson, a delegation Tuesday, including an American diplomat working for the Organization of Security and Cooperation in Europe, reached the southern Chechen village of Shatoi, where the body is currently located.


A Russian forensics expert chosen by the Cuny family was expected to conduct official identification of the body as early as Thursday, she added, although she could not say whether he had in fact reached the body.


The body, which has two bullet wounds in the head and has been disfigured with sulfuric acid, was discovered by children last week.


Continued fighting in the area has frustrated efforts by search teams to reach the body and transport it to Sleptsovsk, where Cuny's son Craig and a U.S. Embassy representative have been waiting.


Frederick Cuny, an American disaster relief expert, disappeared April 9 during his second trip for the Soros Foundation to Chechnya this year.


Search teams comprising representatives of OSCE, the International Committee of the Red Cross and members of Ingushetia's Emergency Situations Ministry have repeatedly come up empty-handed in their search for the 50-year-old aid specialist who has worked in 30 war zones over the past 25 years.


"This hasn't been any different from any other lead we've had from the very beginning. They've all been taken very seriously and they've all been fully investigated," Johnson said. "Up until now there haven't been reports of a body. It's always been that various groups have been holding him."


A current lead, which suggests Cuny is being held by a group of Chechen rebels, is being investigated, Johnson said.


Earlier this week, the missing aid worker's brother, Chris Cuny, who has been participating in search efforts for the past three weeks, complained that the Russian military was holding up attempts to reach the body despite a pledge to step up cooperation by President Boris Yeltsin during last week's summit meeting with U.S. President Bill Clinton.


A delegation reached the badly decomposed body only several days after it was originally discovered by Chechens during the American president's visit, Johnson said.