Coroner finds that Australian Prime Minister Holt drowned in 1967

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Friday, September 2, 2005

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Victorian State Coroner Graeme Johnstone has ruled that former Australian Prime Minister Harold Holt drowned in the surf at Cheviot Beach on December 17, 1967. Mr Holt was swimming at the beach, known for its dangerous currents, when he disappeared. Numerous theories have circulated since to explain the disappearance, including one that believed he was abducted by a Chinese submarine.

No formal inquiry was held at the time, because the law at the time stated that coroners could not investigate unless there was a body. This law was changed in 1985. Mr. Johnstone said that the lack of inquiry meant that much information was not released to the public, which may have contributed to the development of the conspiracy theories.

"Unfortunately, there was no open inquiry at the time so this detailed material did not become general public knowledge," he said, adding, "A simple reading of the original investigative material provides the real and credible explanation."

Mr. Holt's son said that the family believed all along that Holt had drowned.

"Myself and the other family members have always thought that it was simply a matter of him going for a swim when he shouldn't," he said.

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