Experts leading an investigation that could end controversy over whether one of Robert Capa?s most famous war photographs was staged have defended its authenticity.

The negative of Capa?s 1936 image, ?The Falling Soldier?, which has never been seen, is thought to be contained in a suitcase whose discovery in Mexico was announced earlier this year.

The picture shows a Spanish Republican militiaman reeling backwards at what appears to be the moment a bullet strikes him dead.

The archive has been moved to the International Center of Photography (ICP) in New York, where experts have begun digitally scanning the negatives, before scrutinising each image frame by frame.

The ICP ? an organisation founded by Robert Capa?s brother Cornell ? strongly defends the picture?s authenticity.

Cynthia Young, assistant curator of the Center?s Capa Archive, told Amateur Photographer: ?We are just beginning the process of scanning the film in the Mexican suitcase. We estimate it will take about one year to complete all the scanning.?

She added: ?We stand by Richard Whelan?s [Capa?s biographer] account of it, most recently published in his book, ?This is War! Robert Capa at Work?.

But Young conceded: ?The film in the Mexican suitcase may help in our research on this photograph.?

So far, Capa?s contentious picture has only been reproduced from a vintage print.

Analysis of any related negatives, in particular frames either side of the infamous image, may help to solve the 72-year-old mystery once and for all.

For the full story and pictures see this week?s issue of Amateur Photographer magazine, in shops now.

Picture: © International Center of Photography

The Mexican Suitcase