Aussie who found WWI grave banned

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AN Australian school teacher who pinpointed the spot where nearly 200 World War I diggers lie in a mass grave in France has been effectively banned from helping to recover and rebury their bodies.

Lambis Englezos led Australian army officials to the spot of the mass grave on the outskirts of the rural town of Fromelles, near Lille in northern France, after years of painstaking research.

A team of archaeologists uncovered what were believed to be the remains of about 400 Australian and British soldiers in a series of pits on the edge of Pheasant Wood last May.

Work to exhume the bodies and rebury them in a new cemetery being built nearby is due to begin in May.

But Englezos has been told by Australian army officials he will be granted special access to the excavation site only once during the five-month project.

A team of 32 archaeologists will begin excavating the bodies on May 5 amid tight security around the grave site.

They want access to the site limited so as to prevent any contamination of DNA samples they plan to collect from the soldiers' remains in the hope that some of them can be identified.

Veterans' Affairs Minister Alan Griffin, who is in France for an Anzac Day dawn service on Saturday, visited the Fromelles site on Wednesday and said he hoped Englezos would be able to play a role in the recovery of the diggers' bodies.

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