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HSE Chairman wants face to face meeting with Savita's husband

Tuesday, 20 November 2012 - 10:03pm IST | Place: London | Agency: PTI
Solicitor for the Halappanavar family said that they want a full public inquiry to be held into the circumstances surrounding her death

The chairman of an Irish inquiry team probing the death of Indian national Savita Halappanavar on Tuesday sought a face-to-face meeting with her husband after his solicitor said he had no faith in the inquiry and would not cooperate with it.

Solicitor for the Halappanavar family, Gerard O'Donnell, said Savita's husband Praveen and his family were very concerned about the way his late wife was treated at University College Hospital Galway and "they want a full public inquiry to be held into the circumstances surrounding her death".

Savita Halappanavar, 31, died from blood poisoning at University Hospital Galway on October 28 after doctors allegedly refused to perform an abortion stating "this is a Catholic country".

Speaking on Urekabd's National Television and Radio Broadcaster RT� Radio, O'Donnell said Halappanavar would not consent to giving the Health Service Executive (HSE) his late wife's medical records.

"He feels that anybody who is appointed by the HSE and paid for by the HSE to conduct and inquiry into his wife's death won't meet the criteria that we would advise him as lawyers of getting to the truth," he said.

"Evidence won't be taken under oath, it won't be cross examined so I wouldn't be satisfied with that and neither would our client.

"I think it is inappropriate that anybody who was involved should conduct an inquiry into their own actions.

"The HSE are very much at the centre of this and they are purporting to inquire into their own actions or the actions of their staff we want the evidence taken in public and people tested by way of cross examination."

Meanwhile, a statement from the HSE said they were "taking the concerns of Halappanavar extremely seriously" and were "currently examining the make up of the investigation team".

Professor Sir Sabaratnam Arulkumaran, an independent expert in obstetrics and gynaecology from the UK, requested a meeting with her husband today to discuss Halappanavar's concerns.

Director of the Irish Council of Civil Liberties Mark Kelly told RTE earlier that Halappanavar had made an arguable claim against the investigation.

"Savita Halappanavar's right to life under Article 2 of the European Convention of Human rights may not have been respected," he said.

"When Article 2 is at play there is an obligation incumbent on the State to carry out a fully independent inquiry. An inquiry that includes three consultants from Galway University Hospital cannot by any stretch of the imagination be considered to be fully independent."

Minister for Education Ruairi Quinn said that the inquiry should be carried out by the people directly involved, along with outside experts.

"If a subsequent inquiry is necessary then that will be for people best placed to make that judgement to make that decision," he said.

"In the first instance the people directly involved, along with outside experts, should look at what has happened."


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