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Mysterious death unresolved

Julia Skotnitzki

Julia Skotnitzki

The second autopsy to establish the cause of death of a 20-year-old German student who died suddenly in Malta in October proved to be inconclusive.

The family's lawyer, Kai Jochimsen, told The Sunday Times yesterday that the German authorities did not find enough blood inside the body to carry out toxicological and virological tests that may have shed light on the cause of death.

As a result, nearly three months after her death, the family of Julia Skotnitzki are still in the dark about the cause of her death.

Ms Skotnitzki, who was studying to become a travel agent, died in mysterious circumstances at 5.45 p.m. on October 18, after just six days in Malta. She was on an orientation visit organised by a German tour operator. Mr Jochimsen said that Ms Skotnitzki's corpse had been released by the local authorities and the body was flown to Germany. However, the blood which had been drained for tests in Malta was not sent with the corpse.

The report of the autopsy carried out in Germany by the Institute of Forensic Medicine of the University of Munich states that it could not establish the cause of death because "there was no portion of blood left which was suitable for further investigations".

The magisterial inquiry in Malta was still underway, Mr Jochimsen said. He said the family and the German authorities were waiting for the official results of the first autopsy conducted in Malta.

Soon after her sudden death in Malta, German newspapers had claimed that the victim could have contracted malaria or Hantavirus, a deadly disease associated with rodents. However, the autopsy conducted in Germany has ruled out such a possibility, although Mr Jochimsen said these results had not been made public.

The German newspapers quoted Ms Skotnitzki's mother, Rosemarie, claiming that her daughter was mistreated while undergoing medical care in Malta.

The newspapers had reported that before leaving Germany, Ms Skotnitzki already displayed flu symptoms. Three days after arriving in Malta, she fell ill and skipped one of the tour operator activities.

She was admitted to St James Capua Hospital in Sliema but was then transferred to Mater Dei when her condition deteriorated. Her mother flew from Germany to see her in hospital.

Mr Jochimsen confirmed that inspectors at the Criminal Police Unit in Deggendorf, Germany, were investigating "anyone who could have been involved in the negligent homicide of the late Julia Skotnitzki" as well as the mother's claims of mistreatment.

"Currently, there are no results because the blood has not yet been released by the local authorities, but we are pursuing the case because, by its nature and in our society, we will not accept that a young, averagely-strong person with no contraindicative history passes away under no determinable cause," Mr Jochimsen said.

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