Aborigines' guinea-pig claims discounted in Australia

Other News Materials 16 April 2008 12:39 (UTC +04:00)

(dpa) - Medical experts Wednesday disputed claims from aboriginal Australians that children taken from parents in the 1920s were used as guinea pigs in experiments to find a cure for the leprosy that was widespread at the time.

The claims were made before a parliamentary inquiry and the government has promised to investigate them.

Up to 50,000 children may have been separated from their families from 1910 to the 1970s in a misguided attempt at assimilation.

Sydney University infectious diseases expert Warwick Britton said he had no knowledge of a leprosy serum and that what was given was believed to relieve the condition.

"There may well be an oral tradition of Aboriginal leprosy patients being injected," he told national broadcaster ABC. "These injections with chaulmoogra oil were quite painful and they were given every month or two months and it is possible that this has been misunderstood as some kind of guinea-pig therapy."