SA experts to examine Somerton man remains

The remains of the so-called Somerton man have been exhumed at an Adelaide cemetery.
The remains of the so-called Somerton man have been exhumed at an Adelaide cemetery.

South Australian forensic specialists will begin attempting to build a DNA profile of the so-called Somerton man from his exhumed remains.

The man's body was found on Somerton Beach on December 1, 1948, with the circumstances of his death remaining an open police investigation.

Major crime detectives and staff on Wednesday spent twelve hours recovering his body from a burial plot at the West Terrace Cemetery.

Four pallbearers carried a coffin containing his remains out of the cemetery under police escort.

They will be taken to Forensic Science SA in a bid to solve the more than 70-year mystery over his death and identity.

Forensic Science SA assistant director Anne Coxon said modern technology was light years ahead of the techniques available when the body was discovered in the late 1940s.

"Tests of this nature are often highly complex and will take time," she said.

"However, we will be using every method at our disposal to try and bring closure to this enduring mystery."

Attorney-General Vickie Chapman, who gave permission for the exhumation, said the forensics team was well equipped to handle the challenging task.

The Somerton man was first found by passers-by who noticed him slumped against a seawall.

The cause of death remains unknown and many theories have been advanced over his identity, ranging from a jilted lover to a Cold War spy.

It is known as the "Tamam Shud" case, with those Persian words - loosely translating to "it is finished" - found on a torn scrap of paper in his trouser pocket.

Australian Associated Press