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Doctor left 28 bullets in Gandhi's body

By PAUL WEDEL

NEW DELHI, India -- The doctor who performed an autopsy on the bullet-riddled body of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi confirmed he removed two of the 30 bullets from her body but denied he was trying to conceal evidence.

'You concealed vital evidence of other assailants by not extracting those other bullets,' defense lawyer Pran Nath Lekhi told Dr. T.D. Dogra Tuesday at the trial of three men accused in the assassination.

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The defense lawyer complained that the decision to leave the remaining bullets in the body meant that vital evidence was destroyed when the body was cremated.

Dogra said he decided to remove only two of the bullets to avoid mutilating the prime minister's body. He also argued that the two bullets he removed had made wounds sufficient to cause death.

But under cross-examination, he conceded that at least one of the 28 other bullets that hit Gandhi could have killed her.

Dogra also testified that all of the bullets had been fired from in front of the prime minister and that there were no entry wounds in her back. The doctor said the wounds could have been received while she was standing, falling or lying on the ground.

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Three Sikhs are on trial for the Oct. 31, 1984 assassination. Policeman Satwant Singh is accused of being the triggerman. Kehar Singh and Balbir Singh are accused of inspiring and plotting the murder. The three are not related. All Sikhs take the surname Singh.

The prosecution has charged that the three planned the assassination to avenge Gandhi's action against Sikh extremists at the Golden Temple of Amritsar. Indian army troops stormed the temple, the holiest shrine of the Sikh religion, in June 1984 in a battle that killed more than 600 people.

For security reasons, the trial is being held in a makeshift courtroom at New Delhi's Tihar jail, where the defendants are being held.

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