Girl whipped to death, doctors said it was suicide

BANGLADESH - The High Court yesterday directed the government to prosecute four doctors of Shariatpur, including district Civil Surgeon Golam Sarwar, for preparing fallacious autopsy report.

The three other doctors to be prosecuted are Resident Medical Officer Nirmal Chandra Das and medical officers Rajesh Majumder and Hosne Ara of Shariatpur General Hospital. They prepared the much-talked-about autopsy report of Hena Akter, which totally avoided mentioning injury marks on the victim's body.

Fifteen-year-old Hena of Shariatpur was raped by her cousin Mahbub, 40, on January 23. In local arbitration the next day she was lashed at least 50 times upon a Fatwa (religious edict). Hena succumbed to her injuries on January 31.

Terming the autopsy report by Shariatpur doctors disturbing, the HC yesterday said criminal proceedings will be drawn against them on charges of damaging and concealing evidence and trying to hide the truth.

Citing that the doctors depicted the death as a case of suicide, the HC bench of Justice AHM Shamsuddin Chowdhury Manik and Justice Sheikh Md Zakir Hossain said Civil Surgeon Golam Sarwar primarily masterminded the whole episode.

"We are appalled to see the magnitude of illegality," said Justice Shamsuddin Chowdhury Manik.

The justice said the medical board has unequivocally stated that the second post-mortem report compiled by the doctors of Dhaka Medical College Hospital (DMCH) is credible and acceptable while the report that stemmed from the doctors of Shariatpur is just the opposite.

The court termed the action and attitude of the four "miscarriage of justice".

It ordered the health secretary and the director general (DG) of Directorate of Health to take departmental actions against the four physicians immediately.

A legal expert said the highest punishment for committing such offences is 10 years' imprisonment while the doctors may lose their jobs if departmental actions are taken.

The home secretary will supervise the process of initiation of the criminal proceedings, instructed the HC bench.

It also directed the head of Bangladesh Medical and Dental Council to take statutory action against the four doctors.

The court passed the order examining the probe report by a seven-member high powered medical board headed by the DG Directorate of Health.

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