Deaths elsewhere

March 18, 2010

EDMUND DINIS, 85

Prosecutor in Chappaquiddick case

Edmund Dinis, the former prosecutor whose political career sputtered after he oversaw the grand jury investigation into Sen. Edward M. Kennedy's involvement in the Chappaquiddick case, has died.

Mr. Dinis, who championed causes important to Portuguese-Americans throughout his life, died of natural causes Sunday at an assisted-living center in Dartmouth, Mass., said Henry Arruda, manager of WJFD-FM, the Portuguese-language radio station Mr. Dinis owned since 1975.

Mr. Dinis was elected prosecutor in 1959 for a jurisdiction that at the time covered Cape Cod and its outer islands.

He was voted out of office in 1970, the year after Mr. Kennedy's car went off a bridge connecting Martha's Vineyard to Chappaquiddick island and into the water - with former Robert F. Kennedy campaign worker Mary Jo Kopechne inside.

Mr. Kennedy swam to safety, leaving Ms. Kopechne in the car, and did not report the crash to police until the next morning. Mr. Kennedy pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident and received a suspended sentence and probation.

Some thought Mr. Dinis, who oversaw the grand jury that investigated the case, was too hard on Mr. Kennedy, while others thought he let the senator escape more severe punishment.

The case put Mr. Dinis on a collision course with his base of Portuguese-American voters in southeastern Massachusetts, including many who revered the Kennedys because John F. Kennedy was a Roman Catholic, like them, and helped ease immigration restrictions.

"There was no way for him to ultimately satisfy everyone," said Frank Sousa, director of the Center for Portuguese Studies and Culture at the University of Massachusetts.

Mr. Dinis never realized his goal of running for Congress, Mr. Sousa said. He later failed in an attempt to retake the district attorney's office.

- Associated Press

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