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Duncan MacPherson disappeared in the Austrian Alps in August 1989. His body was found in 2003. ((CBC))

A Saskatoon couple is turning to the European Court of Human Rights for answers in the death of their hockey player son in Austria two decades ago.

Bob and Lynda MacPherson have applied to the Strasbourg, France-based court, claiming violations of the right to life and the right to effective remedy.

Duncan MacPherson's body was buried in a glacier near a ski area for 14 years before it was finally found in 2003.

Officials said he died after falling into a crevasse.

However, the MacPhersons believe Austrian authorities didn't find out the full truth.

"We allege that they took active measures to prevent the truth of the death, Duncan's death, coming out," Lynda said.

Duncan, a former player with the Western Hockey League's Saskatoon Blades and other teams, left Saskatoon in 1989 at age 23 to play and coach hockey in Scotland. He stopped for a snowboarding holiday in Austria and was never heard from again.

In the summer of 2003, his body emerged from melting snow and ice in the middle of a popular ski run.

Forensic anthropologist believes machinery involved

Austrian authorities said he died after falling into a four-metre crevasse, although a Canadian forensic anthropologist, Myriam Nafte, told CBC's The Fifth Estate that that doesn't explain the way his bones were broken.

Nafte told the program she believes there was also an encounter with a large piece of machinery. A Fifth Estate documentary showed snow-grooming machines in the area.

Austrian authorities say they don't believe machinery was involved, but Duncan's mother won't let the matter rest. She sees it as a matter of public safety.

"Unless somebody holds them to account, people are going to die there," Lynda MacPherson said.

The MacPhersons say it now falls to the European court in France to uphold their son's right to a full and fair investigation.

The MacPhersons hope the court will reach the same conclusion that they did — their son's death was an accident but not his fault.

"We knew from the beginning what we were up against and it wasn't going to be easy. You're really taking on the whole Austrian government, and they have lots of time and lots of resources and I think they just hope that we'll go away," Lynda MacPherson said. "But we're not going away."