SYDNEY — The skeleton of Australia’s most notorious criminal will finally be returned to his descendants, 132 years after he was executed, the government said Thursday, ending the family’s long quest to find and properly bury the remains of a man many Australians consider a folk hero.
Ned Kelly led a gang of bank robbers in Australia’s southern Victoria state before he was hanged in 1880.
The whereabouts of his corpse was long unknown, but forensic scientists identified Kelly’s skeleton last year after it was found in a mass grave outside a now-closed prison.
Most of Kelly’s skull, which was stolen long ago, is still missing.
Victoria Attorney General Robert Clark said the remains would be turned over to Kelly’s family.
Ellen Hollow, great-granddaughter of Ned Kelly’s sister Kate, welcomed the decision.
Ned Kelly led a gang that robbed banks and killed policemen from 1878 to 1880. Many Australians view him as a Robin Hood-like character who fought the British colonial authorities and championed the rural Irish underclass. Others dismiss him as a cold-blooded killer.