Civil surgeon at fault
An investigation report submitted to the High Court on Thursday termed the first autopsy report of Hena Akter “vague” while the second “proper”.
Fifteen-year-old Hena of Shariatpur was raped by her 40-year-old cousin Mahbub and was afterwards lashed at least 50 times following a Fatwa (religious edict) in local arbitration on January 24. She succumbed to her injuries on January 31.
As per an HC direction, a seven-member committee formed by the Directorate of Health prepared the probe report interrogating the doctors of Shariatpur General Hospital who attended the first autopsy, and those of Dhaka Medical College Hospital who performed the second.
The report was submitted to the bench of Justice AHM Shamsuddin Chowdhury Manik and Justice Sheikh Md Zakir Hossain, sources said.
The bench that earlier issued a suo moto rule on this issue may hear the case this week.
The report stated that the doctors of Shariatpur General Hospital and district Civil Surgeon Golam Sarwar are “equally” guilty of not mentioning the injury marks on Hena's body deliberately.
“The civil surgeon's negligence in preparing the autopsy report has been proved which is against medical ethics,” the report said.
“The civil surgeon in a most unlikely move formed a committee for the autopsy at his own initiative realising the importance of the matter. Besides, being the ex officio of Shariatpur General Hospital the civil surgeon was not aware of Hena's admission and treatment at the facility,” read the report.
It also said had not the second autopsy been done, the cause of the death have remained unknown.
Meanwhile, the Shariatpur Superintendent of Police (SP) has prepared another report recommending departmental actions against two officials of Naria Police Station, Mirza Abul Kalam and Muhammad Aslam Uddin Mollah.
While preparing the autopsy report, Sub-Inspector Aslam Uddin mentioned some irrelevant issues and could not examine the body properly. Moreover, Inspector (investigation) Mirza Abul Kalam Azad did not refer to the incident of rape while lodging the case even after intensive interrogation of Hena Akter.
The Shariatpur SP also submitted his report before the HC on Thursday.
The first post-mortem done by the doctors of Shariatpur General Hospital on February 2 made no mention of injury marks on Hena's body. The doctors assigned for the post-mortem were the hospital's Resident Medical Officer Nirmal Chandra Das, and medical officers Rajesh Majumder and Hosne Ara Begum.
However, the DMCH autopsy on February 8 said that the reason behind the death was haemorrhage followed by septicaemic shock as a result of wound from blunt object and were ante-mortem and homicide in nature.
The DMCH doctors who performed the autopsy are Zubaidur Rahman, assistant professor of forensic medicine, Firoza Wazed, assistant professor of gynaecology, and Najibur Rahman, assistant professor of pathology.
Meanwhile, as per the HC directive on February 10, the government formed a seven-member probe committee led by the director general of Directorate of Health to enquire why the two autopsy reports varied so much.
The committee has recently submitted its report to the HC saying that such misleading post-mortem reports appear due to lack of appropriate training.
The committee recommended the government arrange compulsory training for the post-mortem doctors under the departments of forensic medicine at government medical colleges.
It suggested having doctors of the first post-mortem take part in the re-post-mortem and put their signatures in the report. A high-powered committee led by an associate professor may be formed for the re-post-mortem procedure, sources said.
The seven-member probe committee by the Directorate of Health comprises its Director General Prof Khandker Md Shefayet Ullah, Prof Mizanul Huq, departmental head of forensic medicine of DMCH, Prof TC Das, departmental head of forensic medicine of Sir Salimullah Medical College Hospital, Rowshan Ara, head of Gynaecology department of Holy Family Red Crescent Hospital, Habibuzzaman Chowdhury, departmental head of forensic medicine of Shaheed Suhrawardi Medical College, Kajal Islam, deputy secretary (police) of home ministry, and Md Fazlul Huq, deputy solicitor (civil) of law ministry.
The Daily Star in a report on February 7 raised doubts about the autopsy report from Shariatpur and Naria, which prompted the HC to issue a suo moto rule the same day for exhumation of Hena's body and a fresh autopsy.
The body was exhumed that night and sent to DMCH. The next day a fresh post-mortem was done at DMCH. This time the doctors found extensive wounds on the body, and determined those as the cause of Hena's death.
The HC bench on February 10 issued eight directives for the government, including filing of a fresh case in connection with Hena's death on five specific charges against the deliverers of the fatwa, and to probe why there has been a gulf of difference between two post-mortem reports.