Lindy and Michael Chamberlain vindicated after more than 30 years

A shameful episode in Australia has drawn to a close – with the recent inquest judgement that a dingo was responsible for baby Azaria’s death… and not the parents.

Like many Australians who remember when it happened, I can recall the witch hunt feel to the case.   It seemed that almost all of the guilty accusations revolved around the public perception from the front page photograph that Lindy appeared sullen and was not appropriately grieving, whatever that should be!  Add to that the “fact” that they were Seventh Day Adventists, and their name had a Biblical feel that was “said” to mean sacrifice.

As it happened, a friend of mine had camped at the same campground the night before the event, had met the Chamberlains and found them to be just a regular family camping in the grounds along with others.  My friend was certainly convinced that a dingo was responsible; indeed the night before Azaria’s death, my friend had things taken from just outside her tent, presumably by dingos who had been seen around the area.    Since then, there has been plenty of footage of how unpredictable and vicious dingos can be.

When Lindy was interviewed on the radio last week, she described how she had cried at the time, but the footage was never shown.  Even now, people have said … “they don’t care about the evidence, they still believe she’s guilty” .  It sounds very much like the Dreyfus Affair, some people just don’t care what the evidence is – Israel has certainly borne the brunt of that.

Rabbi Benzion Mikecki had a good Shule column about it

Careful How You Judge!
Azaria and the Jews
Mazal Tov Lindy and Michael!
It’s hard to put into words the very deep emotions that are running through me. Exoneration! Finally! Even after all these years, I can easily relive the sympathy I felt for Lindy and together with that, the disgust I felt when Ian Barker QC publicly celebrated his victory the night after the conviction. Truly a dark chapter in Australian legal history – and one for which many people need to answer. It seems that although the wheels of justice turn slowly, they do turn, at least in this case.
Ever since then I have questioned both our adversarial system and the jury system. How can laymen without scientific background possibly grasp complex circumstantial and forensic evidence? Furthermore there were indications that rather than giving Lindy a presumption of innocence, at least some of the jury assumed she was guilty until proven innocent.
I also remember being shocked when I read in The Age that Azaria was a Hebrew word meaning “sacrifice in the desert”. As a Rabbi who knows Hebrew I knew it didn’t – it means “God is my Helper”. I immediately identified the accusations against the Chamberlains with the Blood Libels that our people have suffered throughout the centuries.
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