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Parents seek explanation for dead son's missing organs

Mike Mansholt's body was returned to Germany with most organs missing, parents say

Mike Mansholt

Mike Mansholt

The parents of a German teenager found dead at the foot of Dingli Cliffs last July want to know why their son’s body was returned to them with most organs missing.

Bernd and Suzanne Mansholt filed an application before the inquiring magistrate claiming that not all their son’s organs had been returned.

They said his heart, brain, neck organs, the lungs, liver, pancreas, adrenal glands, the right kidney, the bladder, the stomach and the small intestine were missing.

Mike Mansholt, a 17-year-old adventurer, arrived on holiday on July 8 and was found dead on July 26. He had been reported missing four days earlier after failing to return home after his holiday.

He had been found without his running shoes a few metres away from his rented bicycle. It was established that the damage to the bicycle was not compatible with a fall from a height. An autopsy had concluded that Mr Mansholt had been dead for between seven and eight days. The cause of death, however, was never established.

Both the post-mortems held in Malta and in Germany concluded that the teenager had no broken bones, all but excluding the possibility of a fall.

The parents said they realised the organs were missing when the corpse was taken to the Medical University of Hannover, where the second autopsy was conducted in the hope that it could shed some light on the cause of death.

The only organs found inside Mr Mansholt’s corpse were his left kidney, the diaphragm, the spleen and the large intestine, they said.

They told Magistrate Marseanne Farrugia, who conducted the magisterial inquiry into the teenager’s death, they were never given a copy of the report of the autopsy carried out at Mater Dei Hospital and neither were they privy to the findings.

They said that, due to the missing organs, the second autopsy could only reach “extremely limited” results and it could not be compared to the results of the first autopsy.

In their application, filed by lawyers Veronique Dalli and Dean Hili, the Mansholts said that in an e-mail exchange with the medico-legal expert appointed by the Maltese courts, Mario Scerri, they had been told that their son’s organs had been attacked by rodents and that the brain had liquefied.

However, they noted, the autopsy in Germany found nothing of the sort. There was no evidence of rodent bites, except for a bite on the neck and an abrasion on the forearm. Neither was there any evidence that the corpse had been invaded by rodents or animals, the parents pointed out.

They complained that although the corpse was certified as having been embalmed before the flight back to Germany, the second autopsy found no formalin, which was usually used for embalming.

They called on the court to order an investigation into how the organs went missing, why they had not been returned with the corpse and why it had been claimed that the body had been embalmed when it had not happened.

Mr Mansholt’s belongings, including his backpack, which, according to relatives, included his phone and a GoPro sports camera, have never been found.

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