Savita inquest to call on just 16 witnesses: Report

Last Updated: Saturday, April 6, 2013 - 15:47

London: Just 16 out of about 60, who gave statements to the Irish police during the probe into the death of Indian dentist Savita Halappanavar, will be called to give evidence at the inquest next week, a media report said on Saturday.

As few as 16 individuals, out of the total of up to 60 who gave statements to gardai (Irish police), will be called to testify at the inquest which proceeds to a full hearing on Monday morning, well placed sources were quoted by the Irish Times as saying.

Savita, hailing from Karnataka, died from blood poisoning on October 28 last year after doctors refused to terminate her 17-week long pregnancy, telling her that the foetal heartbeat was still present and "this is a Catholic country".

The inquest opened in Galway in January for one day and was adjourned until April 8.

It is understood the weight of the witness evidence will come from personnel involved in the latter days of Savita`s care at the University Hospital Galway in Ireland and less so in relation to the earlier days when, according to her husband Praveen Halappanavar, the couple asked repeatedly for a termination of the 17-week pregnancy she was miscarrying.

The coroner, Ciaran McLoughlin, will also call five of his own expert witnesses, among them will be Peter Boylan, former master of the National Maternity Hospital in Holles Street, Dublin.

Praveen and his solicitor Gerard O`Donnell, this weekend will meet Eugene Gleeson and John O`Donnell, who will represent Praveen at the inquest.
"We will go through everything, the list of witnesses due to give evidence and consider our position on those who have still not given statements as the evidence unfolds," said O`Donnell.

Ireland`s abortion laws are the strictest in Europe. Savita`s death caused widespread outrage in India and re-ignited protests and debate on abortion laws.

At the opening of the inquest in January, lawyer for Galway Hospital Declan Buckley said two members of staff had been unable to file statements as they were in a "difficult position".

O`Donnell said that while he had received an explanation from the hospital as to why these two witnesses could not give statements, it remained unclear how important their evidence could be.

"As the evidence unfolds we may decide we have to request that they be called. We simply do not know yet," he said last night.

The final draft of the unpublished Health Service Executive report into her death has found there was an "overemphasis" on the foetus and an "underemphasis" on Halappanavar`s deteriorating health.

O`Donnell and a close friend of the Halappanavar family will meet the chairman of the HSE inquiry, Prof Sir Sabaratnam Arulkumaran, in Galway, "probably in the next seven to eight days", according to O`Donnell.


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First Published: Saturday, April 6, 2013 - 15:45

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