Role of Ligature Mark in differentiating cases of hanging and strangulation

Forensic medico-legal evidence revealed through autopsy has always been regarded as one of the most important piece of evidence. In cases of homicides, ligature marks goes beyond to prove whether it is a case of strangulation or hanging.

Ligature marks are those marks made by an item of cord, rope, silk or some such material that has been used for the purposes of strangulation. There are two important aspects when it comes to ligature marks:

  • The time when the ligature mark had been caused
  • The angle of the ligature mark

In cases where the deceased person had been strangulated and then made hang, there would be two ligature marks – one caused by the first strangulation and second one caused by the hanging. Cases, where there are two ligature marks, would show that the person had been strangulated first and then made to hang. Also, the angle of the ligature mark cause by strangulation is different from that found in cases of hanging.

The time (before death or after death) when the ligature was caused would clearly show how the death took place – whether strangulation or hanging. In cases where a person had been strangulated to death and then made to hang, there would be two ligature marks – once caused by strangulation and another caused by hanging. A good Forensic Specialist would be able to distinguish the mark caused by hanging and the one caused by strangulation. Further, when it can be determined, which of the two had taken place ante-mortem (prior to death), that method is the exact cause of death.


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