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Christian 'dingo baby' man, wrongly convicted, dies

by Aaron James

Michael Chamberlain, 72 and a former pastor, died on Monday of complications from leukaemia, his friend Stuart Tipple said.

Lindy and Michael Chamberlain, both Seventh-day Adventists, were wrongly convicted of the death of their nine-week-old daughter Azaria after the baby vanished from their tent during a 1980 camping trip to Uluru in the Australian Outback.

The Chamberlains insisted a dingo snatched their daughter but prosecutors argued that Lindy had slit her daughter's throat and buried her in the desert. Azaria's remains were never found.

In 1982 Lindy Chamberlain was convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison. Michael Chamberlain was convicted of being an accessory and given a suspended sentence.

Three years later Azaria's jacket was found in the desert near a dingo den and Lindy Chamberlain was released from prison and later the Chamberlains' convictions were formally overturned.

Michael Chamberlain was a pastor with the Seventh-day Adventist church, a Protestant denomination few Australians knew well at the time, and false rumours circulated that Lindy had killed her daughter as part of a religious ritual.

In 2012 a coroner ruled that the baby had died as a result of a dingo attack.

Shortly before the coroner's ruling, Michael Chamberlain said religious prejudice played a large role in the injustice he and his former wife suffered.

"The church got so smashed up, erroneously, and all through, really, a nasty dose of prejudice," he said.

"I can say that I think our religion definitely impacted quite strongly on the attitude that many Australians developed."

Seventh-day Adventists believe Saturday, rather than Sunday, should be the Biblical Sabbath and the main day of worship for Christians.

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