Institute for Plastination: Lawsuit in China Against Anatomist, Gunther von Hagens Questions American News Gathering, Confuses Civil Law

Apr 01, 2010, 19:50 ET from Institute for Plastination

HEIDELBERG, Germany, April 1 /PRNewswire/ --The following is being released by Institute for Plastination.

A lawsuit filed in mainland China against anatomist, Dr. Gunther von Hagens' business interests there is confounding legal and media analysts familiar with the convoluted case.

The civil suit was filed by Sui Hongjin, a competitor of von Hagens and best known as a supplier of Chinese human specimens for cadaver displays. Hongjin charges von Hagens with "reputation infringement" resulting from a 2008 investigative report by ABC TV's Chief Investigative Correspondent, Brian Ross on the source of bodies used in exhibitions of human remains.

The lawsuit holds the German anatomist's Chinese company culpable for the contents of the report. "Dr. von Hagens is being sued for an investigation by a reputable American media outlet and award-winning journalist," said Gail Vida Hamburg, Director of Science Communications for the Institute for Plastination. "We understand Chaos Theory's premise that the flap of a butterfly's wings in Brazil sets off a tornado in Texas, but this is absurd," she said.

It is an astounding case that questions European case law, the heart of US Constitutional law, and business and international law. It confuses the sovereignty and culpability of European, Chinese and American-based companies, by holding Dr. von Hagens' company in China responsible for the journalism investigation of a US media outlet. "It applies Chinese rules of news censorship to American newsgathering, reporting, and free speech, treating the Fourth Estate and First Amendment as quaint notions," said Hamburg.  "We established a gold standard in the field of anatomical exhibitions to work transparently with all media. It may not be the Chinese way but it is the American way, " she said.

Lawyers expect a courtroom drama that embarrasses the Chinese government, if the case proceeds and Dr. von Hagens' legal team call Harry Wu –founder of the Washington D.C based Laogai Research Foundation— as a witness. The most prominent Chinese-American activist lobbying in the halls of Congress on human rights issues in China, Wu is expected to shed light on the issue of labor camps and the exploitation of executed prisoners in China's penal system for commercial use.

About Dr. Gunther von Hagens

Anatomist Dr. von Hagens invented plastination in 1977. He founded the world's only body donation program for plastination in 1982.  In 1995 he began touring his BODY WORLDS exhibitions, seen by 30 million people.  Currently, he is a visiting professor at New York University's College of Dentistry. He is the Scientific Director for the Institute for Plastination.  His Chinese company in Dalian is responsible for producing animal plastinates, now showcased in his latest exhibition, KORPERWELTEN der Tiere.  

SOURCE Institute for Plastination