/ 4 September 2009

Michael Jackson laid to rest, surrounded by stars

Michael Jackson was laid to rest on Thursday at a funeral attended by family and celebrities, more than two months after the pop star died at age 50 of a drug overdose that has been ruled a homicide.

Tight security kept fans, reporters and even aircraft well away from the Forest Lawn cemetery in the Los Angeles suburb of Glendale, where Jackson will lie in the stellar company of such Hollywood icons as Walt Disney and Humphrey Bogart.

Jackson’s family arrived at the cemetery more than an hour late, driven in a procession of nearly 30 limousines and cars that passed a small crowd of fans and onlookers.

The singer — who sold millions of albums worldwide with hits such as Thriller and Billie Jean— died of a drug overdose on June 25 in what the Los Angeles County Coroner said was a homicide.

Officials said a cocktail of prescription medication, including the powerful anesthetic propofol and sedative lorazepam were the primary causes of his death.

Police have investigated several doctors who treated Jackson, focusing on his personal physician, Dr Conrad Murray, who was at his bedside when he suffered a heart attack in a rented Los Angeles mansion.

Murray was hired by concert promoter AEG Live in the weeks before Jackson’s death to watch over him as he rehearsed for a series of comeback concerts in London, scheduled to start in July.

Those concerts were to have helped the singer pay off debts and shore up his finances.

Police have said they will seek criminal charges in the case but so far officials have not filed any.

But scandal was likely far from the minds of the Hollywood celebrities who attended the service, including actress Elizabeth Taylor, child star Macaulay Culkin and Jackson’s ex-wife Lisa Marie Presley, daughter of Elvis Presley.

Jackson’s final resting place is a crypt in the Grand Mausoleum, a vast, mock-Renaissance building on the stately property. His body had been kept at the cemetery since his public memorial service at a basketball arena in downtown Los Angeles on July 6.

The Jackson estate will reimburse the Glendale Police Department for its expenses, estimated at up to $150 000. The city of Los Angeles absorbed the estimated $1,4-million cost of the memorial service. – Reuters