Attorney Says Researcher Is Scapegoat For Colleague’s Killing
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ A researcher wanted in Africa in the gruesome killing of gorilla expert Dian Fossey says the charge against him is outrageous.
The 35-year-old research assistant, Wayne Richard McGuire, of Hazlet, N.J., also invited the Justice Department to question him at any time about the Dec. 27 slaying of Ms. Fossey, a U.S. citizen who was hacked to death in December while studying gorillas in the mountains of Rwanda.
″I had absolutely nothing to do with Dian’s tragic death,″ McGuire said Friday. ″She was my friend and one of my mentors. I had everything to lose and nothing to gain by her death. I am shocked and outraged by these false allegations.″
At a news conference, Michael Mayock, McGuire’s attorney, said his client has been made a scapegoat in a conspiracy between the United States and Rwanda.
Mayock said poachers or Rwandan officials could have wanted Ms. Fossey dead because of her outspoken efforts to shield the endangered gorillas from humans. He said she was known to have physically abused poachers, and the Rwanda government claimed she had shot at tourists.
Ms. Fossey, 53, internationally known for the 18 years she studied the gorillas, was killed with a machete at her cabin on the slopes of 12,175-foot Mount Visoke, where she lived among the animals.
McGuire has received numerous grants to support his research on the effects of male parenting on undersized primates.
″It’s my belief there was a conspiracy between the government of Rwanda and the United States,″ Mayock said, adding that the U.S. government may have been duped by the Rwandans ″into making my client a scapegoat in a murder.″
In Washington, State Department spokesman James Callahan said Mayock’s conspiracy theory was absurd.
″And the second statement (about being duped) is totally off the wall because the U.S. government never has rendered any kind of opinion as to who the perpetrator of the Fossey killing is. We never indicated it was McGuire or any other individual.″
The Rwandan government issued an international arrest warrant for McGuire on July 27, the same day he left the country and seven months after the killing.
Mayock contends U.S. officials cooperated with the Rwandans because the African nation is a key listening post for the United States in gaining information about nearby African countries.
Rwanda is in east-central Africa, surrounded by Zaire, Uganda, Tanzania and Burundi.
″I don’t think anyone knows who killed Dian Fossey,″ he said. ″There are so many people with possible motives, it would be hard to pick out any one person or agency.″
Mayock said he believes the Rwandans waited until McGuire left the country before issuing the warrant because the U.S. and Rwanda have no extradition treaty.