Maxwell Mystery Deepens With New Autopsy Information, Yacht Reports
EDITH M. LEDERER
Nov. 16, 1991
LONDON (AP) _ Elisabeth Maxwell, widow of media magnate Robert Maxwell, said Friday she is convinced his death was an accident and that news media speculation that it wasn't is damaging and causing her further grief.
''An accident it was, whatever the accident was, and I hope that they (the Spanish officials carrying out the autopsy) will be able to tell us more of what were the last hours of his life,'' she said in an interview with Independent Television News.
She said the speculation about the cause of his death complicated her period of bereavement.
Earlier, a newspaper reported that new autopsy information and sightings of other yachts in a remote area where Maxwell was sailing raised questions about the cause of his death.
A lawmaker who maintains the British publisher was linked to the Israeli secret service Mossad said in the House of Commons that there was speculation Maxwell may have been murdered.
George Galloway, a member of the opposition Labor Party, demanded the government comment on the reports in The Guardian newspaper about Maxwell.
The 68-year-old Maxwell disappeared from his yacht early Nov. 5. His body was recovered from the Atlantic off Spain's Canary Islands later that day, and an autopsy was performed Nov. 7.
Judge Isabel Oliva, the investigating magistrate, was quoted as telling BBC television Friday that forensic reports won't be complete for at least one week.
''There is no charge against anyone at the moment and there is no one who is apparently implicated at this stage,'' Oliva said.
Quoting an unidentified source who was said to have extensive notes on the confidential autopsy documents, the Guardian reported:
-Doctors did not offer a likely cause of death and only ruled out drowning because there was not enough water in Maxwell's lungs.
-Doctors found Maxwell had a tiny perforation or fissure below his left ear that was .04 inches wide.
-Doctors did not find ''certain signs normally associated with a lengthy period in the water before retrieval,'' including wrinkles and sunburn.
The liberal daily said a statement from Judge Luis Gutierrez Sanjuan that Maxwell died a natural death before falling into the water was among ''the least consistent'' conclusions from the autopsy findings.
The three forensic experts who carried out the autopsy referred to a ''picture of cardio-respiratory congestion,'' not failure, The Guardian said.
The congestion could have been brought on by one or more causes: a heart attack, ''though, significantly, no evidence was found of one,'' intoxication either by medication or poison, or partial drowning, it said.
''One of the more likely scenarios deducible from the report is a 'mixed death' - the victim's life ebbing away in the sea over several hours as his lungs take in more and more water and increasingly strained breathing exerts progressively greater pressure on a heart already weakened by some initial damage,'' the newspaper said.
The absence of burns is hard to explain because Maxwell's body was found naked and Nov. 5 was sunny, it said.
The absence of wrinkling casts doubt on the theory of a long agonizing death at sea and suggests ''Maxwell had been dead for some time before his body entered the water,'' it said.
The Guardian also reported what it said were sightings of other yachts near Maxwell's 180-foot yacht, Lady Ghislaine, in a remote area far from the port of Los Cristianos around the time the publisher disappeared.
The London Evening Standard quoted fisherman Ernesto Kraus on Tuesday as saying a smaller white yacht that bore no name or flag appeared to follow the Lady Ghislaine when it headed toward the island port of Santa Cruz on Nov. 4.