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New probe into 31-year mystery of Ayers Rock baby

Australia will hold a new inquest into the controversial 1980 disappearance of baby Azaria Chamberlain at Ayer's Rock, a famous landmark in the central Australian outback, a government spokesman said on Sunday.
/ Source: Reuters

Australia will hold a new inquest into the controversial 1980 disappearance of baby Azaria Chamberlain at Ayer's Rock, a famous landmark in the central Australian outback, a government spokesman said on Sunday.

The inquest will be the fourth into the infant's death, which drew international attention after her mother, Lindy Chamberlain-Creighton, was convicted of murder in 1982 and sentenced to life imprisonment.

The conviction was later quashed. A conviction against the baby's father, Michael Chamberlain, as an accessory after the fact was also later quashed.

Azaria's parents have always maintained she was taken from their tent by a dingo, an Australian wild dog. The case has gripped attention for decades, prompting several dramatisations, including a 1988 movie starring Meryl Streep.

A spokesman for the Department of Justice in Australia's Northern Territory said a new inquest had been ordered for February, without elaborating on the reasons.

"I can confirm that this is going to take place," he said, adding it would begin on February 24.

Ayer's Rock, or Uluru by its Aboriginal name, is a giant monolith in Australia's parched centre and is one of the country's leading tourist attractions.