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Family Of U.K. Photographer Found Dead In Harare Accepts He Took His Own Life

The family of British photo journalist Richard Mills, found dead in his Harare hotel room on July 14, has stated that it accepts he took his own life, the Times of London reported.

The Times reported on its Web site Tuesday that “there was no evidence of foul play” and on Wednesday published the statement from the journalist's family.

A member of the family had stated earlier that it was "almost impossible" to believe that Mills, 41, who had worked for the Times since 2000, had taken his own life.

"Having had the chance to examine in detail the circumstances surrounding Richard's death we are now reconciled to the fact that he did indeed take his own life," the family said. "We acknowledge that the amount of suffering and extreme hardship he witnessed at first hand in many harrowing situations throughout the world proved too much for him to bear."

The statement continued: "We would respectfully ask the media to stop further speculation and let the family mourn our loss and grieve in peace."

Three international journalistic organizations this week had called for an investigation into the death of Mills, a Times photographer working undercover in Zimbabwe at the time.

Statements calling for an investigation were issued Wednesday by the International Press Institute and the U.K. National Union of Journalists, following a similar statement Tuesday released by the International Federation of Journalists.

NUJ President James Doherty wrote to South African President Thabo Mbeki saying that the union "shares with his family, colleagues and friends their grave concern at the circumstances surrounding Richard's death." He asked him to "raise this incident in your discussions with Zimbabwean authorities to ensure it is investigated in an open and transparent manner."

Mr. Mbeki has been a mediator in Zimbabwe's political crisis since March 2007.

Informed on Wednesday of the Times position that Mills took his own life, an official with the International Federation of Journalists said the organization was standing by its Tuesday statement.

IFJ Africa Director Gabriel Baglo said the international community should support a full investigation. "He died in his room. There is need for an inquiry," Baglo said.

More reports from VOA's Studio 7 for Zimbabwe...

This report has been updated and recast to give greater prominence to the Mills family's statement saying it accepted that he had taken his own life.