Memorial service held for Australian outlaw Ned Kelly

Undated photograph of a police mugshot of Ned Kelly, aged 16, at the Old Melbourne Gaol, released March 13, 2008
Image caption Ned Kelly's body was thrown into a mass grave after he was hanged in 1880

Descendants of Ned Kelly have held a memorial service for the Australian outlaw, more than 130 years after he was hanged for murder.

The private service, attended by hundreds of people, took place in Wangaratta, north-east Victoria, ahead of his burial on Sunday.

The commemorations end a wrangle over the remains of the outlaw, who led a gang in Victoria in the 19th Century.

Kelly was hanged at Old Melbourne Jail in 1880 for killing three policemen.

His remains were thrown into a mass grave, then reburied inside Pentridge Prison in Victoria in 1929. The bones were then exhumed in 2009 and identified using DNA testing in 2011. The outlaw's skull remains missing.

The site's developers wanted to keep the remains in a museum or memorial, but Kelly's family wanted the bones returned. The Victoria state government decided in favour of Kelly's relatives last year.

"This is something that has been needed to be done for a long time, so here for us it's nice to see a close to the chapter, so to speak, and right an old wrong," Anthony Griffiths, the great-grandson of Kelly's youngest sister Grace, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation before the ceremony.

"He (Kelly) especially requested it the day before he was hanged that he... be given to his friends and family so he could be buried properly."

Kelly will be buried in a cemetery in Greta, not far from the site of his gunfight with police in Glenrowan.

Ned Kelly was seen by some as a cold-blooded killer and by others as a folk hero who fought colonial authorities.

The exploits of the outlaw and his gang have been the subject of numerous films and television series.

"Of all Australians, Ned is without doubt one of the most famous, some would say infamous, and therein lies the great divide in society," said Monsignor John White, who led the service in Wangaratta.

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