Indian woman’s death: Ireland assures fair probe



London: A day after the tragic death of Indian dentist Savita Halappanavar in Ireland evoked global outrage, Irish authorities on Thursday said they would appoint an independent external expert to probe the matter so that it could "stand up to world's scrutiny".

The Health and Safety Executive, which runs all of the Irish public health services, said an independent external expert in obstetrics and gynaecology would be appointed to strengthen the incident management team it has asked to investigate the circumstances of Savita's death.

As the news of 31-year-old pregnant woman's tragic death led to angry protests in Dublin against Ireland's abortion laws, Health Minister James Reilly today warned the inquiry into the tragic death should "stand up to world's scrutiny".

"You're stuck between trying to get to the answers as quickly as you possibly can but not doing so in such a rushed fashion that you don't get the true answers. I want the findings of this to stand up to the scrutiny of the world," Reilly was quoted as saying by the Irish Times.

Savita, hailing from Karnataka, died from blood poisoning at University Hospital Galway after doctors allegedly refused to perform an abortion stating "this is a Catholic country".

Abortion is illegal in Ireland except where there is a real and substantial risk to the life, as distinct from the health, of the mother.

About 2,000 people gathered outside the Irish parliament - the Dail - in Dublin today calling for the reform of the nation's controversial abortion laws. A minute's silence was also held in memory of Savita.

In London, a group of about 40 protesters also gathered outside the Irish embassy. In Cork, a candlelight vigil was held at the city's opera house in her memory, BBC reported.

Savita's death on October 28 is the subject of two investigations. Besides the Health Service Executive probe, the hospital had also launched an internal investigation.

Ireland Prime Minister Enda Kenny, meanwhile, did not rule out an independent inquiry. He said it was appropriate for the Health Minister to first receive the reports of the hospital and the HSE.

CVR Prasad, an orthopaedic surgeon at Merlin Park Hospital in Galway, has called for a public inquiry into her death.

Prasad, who has been living in Galway for the last 26 years, and was a close friend of Savita and her husband Praveen Halappanavar, said people were "shocked" by the news.

He said the inquiry should be taken out of the hands of the Health Service Executive or University Hospital Galway.

PTI