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Famous people who died in 2009

[BBC, Friday, 1 January 2010 10:53 No Comment]

Some of the world’s most wanted militants were killed at the hands of government forces in 2009. South Korea mourned two presidents, a prominent human rights activist was killed and many who helped change history in their own countries and beyond were remembered.

For full obituaries of those listed below, click on their names.

Helen Suzman in May 1999

Helen Suzman

The celebrated South African politician was, for 13 years, the only MP to openly condemn the country’s whites-only apartheid regime.

Died: 1 January, in Johannesburg, aged 91.

Undated handout picture of Velupillai Prabhakaran

Velupillai Prabhakaran

The Tamil Tiger leader was killed trying to flee the Sri Lankan army as it moved in to the last rebel-held patch of jungle in the north-east to declare victory over the insurgency.

Died: around 18 May, in north-east Sri Lanka, aged 54.

Former South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun in February 2007

Roh Moo Hyun

The former South Korean president is thought to have committed suicide by jumping into a ravine. His family had been under investigation over allegations of corruption during his term in office.

Died: 22 May, in mountains near Gimhae, aged 62.

File pic of President Omar Bongo of Gabon

Omar Bongo Ondimba

Gabon’s president led the West African state for more than four decades, making him Africa’s longest-serving ruler.

Died: 8 June, in a Spanish clinic, aged 73.

Former US defence secretary Robert McNamara in January 2002

Robert McNamara

US foreign secretary during the Vietnam war and the Cuban Missile Crisis. He later wrote of his regret over his Vietnam role, describing the war as "terribly wrong".

Died: 6 July, in Washington DC, aged 93.

Picture of Natalie Estemirova released by Memorial on 15 July 2009

Natalia Estemirova

The award-winning Russian human rights activist had been investigating alleged human rights abuses in Chechnya when she was kidnapped as she left her home in Grozny. Her body was found in neighbouring Ingushetia.

Died: 15 July, in the North Caucasus, aged 50.

Archive photo of Walter Cronkite in 1973

Walter Cronkite

The legendary US TV anchor, who fronted CBS Evening News from 1962 to 1981, was known to millions as "the most trusted man in America".

Died: 18 July, in New York, aged 92.

Corazon Aquino in Manila in September 2005

Corazon Aquino

Catapulted into Philippine politics following the murder of her senator husband, Mrs Aquino became president when the 1986 "people power" uprising deposed Ferdinand Marcos.

Died: 1 August, in the Philippines, aged 76.

Former South Korean President Kim Dae-jung in Seoul in May 2009

Kim Dae Jung

President of South Korea from 1997 to 2003, he pioneered the so-called Sunshine Policy of engagement with North Korea.

Died: 18 August, in Seoul. His date of birth was unclear.

Edward Kennedy in January 2009

Edward Kennedy

The veteran US Senator and brother of former President John F Kennedy and Senator Robert F Kennedy, who were both assassinated, died after a long battle with a brain tumour.

Died: 26 August, in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, aged 77.

Video still of Baitullah Mehsud in May 2008

Baitullah Mehsud

The leader of the Taliban in Pakistan was one of the most wanted militants. Pakistan said he died in a missile strike on his father-in-law’s compound on 5 August, but the Taliban did not confirm his death until later in the month.

Died: August, in South Waziristan.

YSR Reddy

YS Rajasekhara Reddy

Chief minister of Andhra Pradesh and an influential politician from the Congress party, he was killed along with four others in a helicopter crash.

Died: 2 September, in the Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, aged 60.

Picture of Noordin Mohamed Top released by Indonesian police in November 2003

Noordin Mohamed Top

Indonesia’s most-wanted Islamist militant was killed with three others during a police raid. He was believed to have been a key recruiter and financier for the Jemaah Islamiah militant group, but had formed his own more hard-line splinter group.

Died: 17 September, in central Java, aged 41.

Claude Levi Strauss in Paris in March 2005

Claude Levi Strauss

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