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Wed, 04.03.1996

Balkans plane crash kills Ron Brown

*On this date in 1996, Ron Brown died. The aircraft that was carrying then Secretary of Commerce Brown and thirty-four other passengers crashed into the mountains of Bosnia.

The plane, en route to Dubrovnik Airport, had no survivors. Brown was leading a delegation of U.S. business and banking executives to the Balkans. At the time, Brown (considered by many to be the most powerful Black politician in the United States) was on a special mission to Croatia and Bosnia. However, he was acting as a representative of U.S. finance capital. Weather reports that day indicated that the visibility was at or below five miles.

The question of how Brown died has yet to be answered. A circular hole in his skull could have been a gunshot wound and certainly should have prompted an autopsy, according to an Air Force lieutenant colonel and forensic pathologist who investigated the crash. "Even if you safely assumed accidental plane crash, when you got something that appears to be a homicide that should bring everything to a screeching halt." Lt. Col. Steve Cogswell said. A doctor and deputy medical examiner with the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology, Cogswell repeatedly referred to the wound as "an apparent gunshot wound". However, he also stated, "Whether it's a bullet or something else, we don't know."

The internal security report was completed in March 1999; 15 months after an Air Force forensic pathologist disclosed that an unusual wound at the top of Brown's head could have been a bullet hole.  Former NAACP President Kweisi Mfume and Democratic Rep. Maxine Waters joined Jesse Jackson in demanding a new investigation into Brown's death. The Air Force ruled that Brown died of multiple blunt-force injuries sustained in the crash.

The Associated Press
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New York, NY 10001.


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