미국의 한 정부 과학자가 지난 2001년 탄저균 우편 테러와 관련해 법무부의 기소를 앞두고 자살한 것으로 알려졌습니다.

미국 당국은 62살인 브루스 이빈스의 사형을 추진할 예정이었다고 소식통들은 전했습니다.

미국 '로스앤젤레스 타임스' 신문은 리빈스가 지난 29일 진통제를 다량 복용한 뒤 동부 메릴랜드 주의 프레데릭에 있는 한 병원에서 사망했다고 1일 보도했습니다.

이 신문은 이빈스가 탄저균 우편 테러와 관련해 미 연방수사국 FBI가 자신을 기소할 것이라는 통보를 받았다고 전했습니다.

미국에서는 지난 2001년 9-11 테러공격 직후, 탄저균이 들어있는 우편물이 워싱턴의 정치인들과 뉴욕과 플로리다 주의 언론사들에 배달돼 5명이 사망했습니다.

이빈스는 메릴랜드 주의 포트 디트릭에 소재한 연방정부의 생체방언연구소에서 18년간 근무했습니다. 

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A senior U.S. government scientist has apparently committed suicide just as the Justice Department was about to charge him in connection with the 2001 anthrax mail attacks.

Sources say officials were to seek the death penalty against 62-year-old Bruce Ivins. 

The Los Angeles Times newspaper says Ivins died Tuesday in a Frederick, Maryland, hospital after taking a massive dose of prescription painkillers.

The report says Ivins had been informed of impending charges against him in connection with the mail anthrax attacks that killed five people, shut down government buildings and terrorized the nation. 

Anthrax-laced letters were mailed to politicians in Washington and media outlets in New York and Florida. The mailings began shortly after the September 11th, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Ivins had worked for 18 years at an elite U.S. government biodefense research laboratory at Fort Detrick, (in the eastern state of) Maryland, and had been involved in the investigation of the anthrax attacks.

In June, the Justice Department agreed to pay nearly six million dollars to settle a law suit with another bioweapons expert who had worked at Fort Detrick, Steven Hatfill, who had been named as a person of interest in the attacks. Hatfill said his privacy was violated and his professional reputation ruined.