The company behind shows featuring dissected human cadavers concedes in a settlement with the state announced Thursday that it cannot independently verify the origin of the bodies and will offer refunds to people who attended its New York exhibition.
Some human-rights groups have alleged that executed Chinese prisoners were used in "Bodies ... The Exhibition" shows put on by Premier Exhibitions in New York and several other cities around the world.
The remains are of bodies that went unclaimed in China; the Atlanta-based company said that although its supplier says that none of the remains are of executed prisoners it cannot independently confirm that.
"People have a right to know what they're viewing," New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said at a news conference.
Company will clarify origins
Premier said it would clarify the origins of the preserved human specimens at its New York venues. The "Bodies" exhibition has been at Manhattan's South Street Seaport since 2005.
The corpses are stripped of skin, dissected to show the internal anatomy, and filled with plastic that hardens.
Under the deal, Premier agreed to obtain documentation of the cause of death and origin of the bodies as well as the consent of the deceased to have their remains displayed.
For unclaimed remains previously obtained, the company must post notices including: "This exhibit displays human remains of Chinese citizens or residents which were originally received by the Chinese Bureau of Police. The Chinese Bureau of Police may receive bodies from Chinese prisons. Premier cannot independently verify that the human remains you are viewing are not those of persons who were incarcerated in Chinese prisons."
In a statement Thursday, Premier said it was pleased with the outcome of the inquiry.
Customers who can establish they would not have attended the New York City exhibition had they known of the questions about the origins of the bodies are eligible for refunds.
Those interested in applying for refunds were directed to the Web sites for Premier or the exhibition itself.
The settlement does not apply outside New York. There are "Bodies ... The Exhibition" and "Bodies Revealed" exhibits in 13 cities, including Las Vegas, Cincinnati, Vienna, Austria, and Santiago, Chile.