'Dingo Ate My Baby' Case Reopened

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THE GIST

- Australian authorities will reopen the 1980 case of a child who allegedly was killed by a wild dingo.

- The child, Azaria Chambelain, was just nine weeks old when she went missing.

- Azaria's parents have blamed sloppy police work and biased media reporting for their struggle for justice.

Australia has launched a new inquiry into the death of baby Azaria Chamberlain to re-examine claims she was snatched and killed by a dingo at Uluru, or Ayers Rock, in 1980, officials said on Monday.

The Northern Territory's registrar of births, deaths and marriages is examining the case after an emotional plea from Azaria's mother to change the death certificate to blame a dingo for the bizarre killing.

The registrar has called for submissions and new evidence from both Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton and ex-husband Michael Chamberlain. Both were convicted for the death but later exonerated in a case which made global headlines.

"He has written to both Mrs. Chamberlain-Creighton and Mr. Chamberlain inviting them to contribute to the inquiry and he awaits their responses," the Outback region's justice department said in a statement.

The department added it was "too soon to speculate" whether there would be a fourth inquest, after a coroner in 1995 recorded an open verdict.

However, Chamberlain said he had been informally told authorities were moving to set up an inquest early next year, adding that he was confident of finally proving Azaria was stolen by a dingo.

New evidence includes details of other attacks by Australia's native wild dog on humans, including one in which a nine-year-old boy was killed in 2001, he told Fairfax newspapers.

"It's justice for Azaria," he said, according to public broadcaster ABC. "Her spirit does not rest because the truth was never told about how she actually died."

Azaria was just nine weeks old when she went missing on August 17, 1980 during a camping trip to Uluru, the evocative red monolith in the heart of Australia's Outback. Her body was never found.

The case inspired 1988 hit film "A Cry in the Dark", starring Meryl Streep and Sam Neill, along with books, a TV mini-series and even an opera, and was followed closely by foreign media, making it a global cause celebre.

Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton was jailed for murder two years after her daughter went missing, despite an initial inquest that backed her explanation the baby was snatched by a dingo, and spent three years in prison.

The convictions of Lindy and Michael, who was given a suspended term for being an accessory, were overturned in 1988 after the chance find of a piece of Azaria's clothing near a dingo lair.

However, a third inquest in 1995 recorded an open finding, outraging the two parents.

"The result of that was really quite appalling and we were very upset," Chamberlain told ABC.

Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton released a statement on the incident's 30th anniversary in August calling for a new death certificate, prompting Northern Territory attorney-general Delia Lawrie to order a review of the case.

"I am fair-dinkum about this inquiry," Lawrie said, according to ABC. "I think it is a reasonable and decent thing to do."

Azaria's parents have blamed sloppy police work and biased media reporting -- including suggestions she was sacrificed in a religious ritual -- for their struggle for justice.

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