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Third JFK pathologist breaks silence

CHICAGO -- Breaking his silence, the last of three pathologists who conducted an autopsy on President John F. Kennedy dismissed conspiracy theories Monday that Kennedy was struck by a third bullet.

'I am very much tired of hearing so much nonsense about the Kennedy assasination,' Dr. Pierre Finck said in an interview with the Journal of the American Medical Association, which is published by the American Medical Association.

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'We got it right in 1963 and it still stands in 1992. All these discussions will not change the fact that the conclusion of our 1963 autopsy remains: there were two bullets striking from behind, and there is no evidence for any wounds from the front,' he said. 'In summary, to those who say the wounds came from the front, I say, 'No.''

Finck was one of three pathologists who conducted an autopsy on Kennedy Nov. 22, 1963, after he was shot in Dallas. An Army lieutenant colonel and chief of the wound ballistics pathology branch of the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology at the time, Finck arrived at the morgue at the U.S. Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., 30 minutes after the autopsy began.

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'The direction of the fatal wound traveled from back to front,' Finck said. 'I have nothing to hide. I am not part of a conspiracy.'

He added: 'I examined the wounds with my own eyes. The fatal wound was frightening -- 13 centimeters across at its widest. It was very obvious that it came from the back and exited the front.'

Finck has never before given an interview about the autopsy other than to the Warren Commission that investigated the slaying in 1964. He also testified during Jim Garrison's prosecution of Clay Shaw in 1969, which was subject of Oliver Stone's controversial film 'JFK.'

In May, the medical journal published interviews with the two other pathologists who conducted the autopsy -- Drs. James Humes and J. Thornton Boswell -- who insisted there were only two rear wounds. The absence of Finck gave rise to accusations that Finck was hiding something.

In response, the journal sent a reporter Aug. 19 to interview Finck in Geneva, Switzerland, where the retired 68-year-old Finck now lives. Finck did not participate in the journal's interviews with the other two pathologists because he was traveling at the time, he said.

'I have agreed to talk now because there was a hint that I had something to hide. I have nothing to conceal, and I am not the accomplice of a conspiracy,' he said.

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Finck dismissed claims that the military had interfered with the autopsy. 'I saw generals, but they did not interfere with the autopsy. There was no military interference,' he said.

When asked if Kennedy's autopsy was routine, Finck said: 'It was like no other. I was excited and nervous. It was very difficult because it was the autopsy of a president and we had to get it right.'

Finck stayed in the morgue until 5 a.m. Nov. 23, when the embalming of Kennedy's body was complete. 'As I left, I remember seeing Jackie and Bobby Kennedy standing together outside the hospital. How did they look? They looked quite ... quite ... (long pause) ... how can I answer that.'

Finck criticized Stone's film.

'I have not seen it, but I understand from discussions and readings that the film got only two things right -- the date and the victim!' Finck said. 'All these fantasies and add-ons create fiction, not history. The danger is that the fiction will be mistaken for history.'

Stone was unavailable for comment. But a spokesperson from the director's office said Finck's comments twice contradict earlier statements he had made. In addition, Finck did not address important questions, such as discrepancies in the location of a bullet wound in Kennedy's head.

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In an editorial accompanying the interview, Dr. George Lundberg, the journal's editor, said he could 'state without reservation' that Kennedy was struck by only two bullets from the rear. 'These firsthand accounts of the autopsy and the scientific forensic evidence are indisputable,' he wrote.

Lundberg accused 'conspiracy theorists' of being motivated by 'monetary profit,' and dismissed as 'absurd' charges that the American Medical Assocation was part of a conspiracy.

Lundberg endorsed calls for the National Archives and National Museum of Health and Medicine at the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology in Washington to release all 'relevant' information about the assassination.

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