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Video link for UK murder accused

Holly and Jessica
Pathologists still do not know how the two 10-year-old girls died  

CAMBRIDGE, England -- Judicial authorities in Britain have decided a woman charged with trying to cover up the murder of two 10-year-old girls should give testimony by video from jail on Thursday.

They say they want to avoid angry mob scenes outside the courtroom where Maxine Carr, 25, appeared last week.

Police have now given the bodies of Holly Wells and Jessica Chapman back to their families after failing to find out how they died in a murder case that has stunned Britain.

The best friends vanished after wandering from a family barbecue in their home town of Soham in eastern England, wearing identical Manchester United soccer team T-shirts.

A two-week search shook Britain, and news of the discovery and eventual identification of their bodies caused the greatest outpouring of public grief in the country since the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, five years ago.

Q&A: What happens now? 

Police said Wednesday the bodies had been returned after the coroner failed to determine the cause of death despite pathologists examining them for 10 days since they were discovered in deep woods a few miles from their hometown. The coroner was still awaiting the results of toxicology tests that may yield more clues.

A school caretaker, Ian Huntley, 28, has been charged with the girls' murder. Carr, a former teaching assistant at the girls' school, has been charged with trying to pervert the course of justice during the crime's investigation.

The police van carrying Carr was attacked and pelted with eggs by a furious crowd when she appeared in court to be charged last week.

Her case is to be heard again in court on Thursday in Peterborough, but judicial authorities said she would give her testimony by video link from London's Holloway Prison, the country's largest women's jail, to avoid a repeat of the angry scenes.

Huntley is being held in Rampton, a secure psychiatric hospital, for tests to see if he is competent to stand trial.

St Andrew's Church
The vicar of the local church has asked sightseers to stay away  

A church service, described as a "celebration" of the girls' lives is to be held Friday in the town of Ely, near Soham.

A limited number of tickets were made available for Soham residents and were quickly taken. Police have asked others to stay away and watch the ceremony on TV. Special buses will take mourners to the service to prevent traffic jams.

Funerals will follow over the weekend, which the families have asked to keep private.

Prosecutors are also investigating whether saturation news reporting may have jeopardised the chances of fair trials for Huntley and Carr.

Under Britain's tight media rules for criminal cases, a case can be thrown out if news reporting is seen as potentially prejudicing a jury, and journalists found in contempt of court can be forced to pay prosecution costs, fined or even jailed.

Police have asked British broadcasters to turn over untransmitted video footage of Huntley.


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