Bones belong to Russia's last crown prince -experts

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MOSCOW, Sep 28 (Reuters) Russian specialists believe 44 bone fragments unearthed this summer are the remains of the missing heir to the Romanov dynasty and his sister, Princess Maria, they said today.

''We can make a preliminary conclusion that the remains, with a high percentage of probability, belong to Tsarevich Alexei and the Great Princess Maria,'' said Vladimir Gromov, deputy head of forensic medicine in the Sverdlosvsk region, said.

He made the comments at a news conference in Yekaterinburg, 1,450 km (900 miles) east of Moscow, where Bolshevik revolutionaries shot the royal family in the basement of a merchant's house in 1918, Interfax news agency reported.

Following the collapse of Communism, remains believed to belong to the Tsar, his wife and three daughters were exhumed and reburied in 1998 in the imperial crypt of St Peter and Paul Cathedral in St Petersburg.

But Prince Alexei Nikolayevich and Grand Duchess Maria Nikolayevna were not among those remains.

Scientists, prosecutors and amateur historians have tried to find their remains and some speculated they might have survived, fuelling aging theories that some Romanovs survived Soviet rule.

In August, it was announced newly unearthed bones belonging to two young people, aged about 14 and 20, were found close to the burial site of other members of the royal family.

Bullets were found close enough to the bone fragments to suggest they had been inside the bodies before they decomposed.

Earlier this week in Moscow, the public prosecutor ruled the last tsar, Nicholas II, and his family were not entitled to political rehabilitation because their murder was not officially authorised.

The verdict ends a long legal campaign by the extended survivors of the Romanov family, since the Court stated there wasn't the necessary paper trail to justify the case.

REUTERS SS AS1552

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