News Courts

Tuesday 2 September 2014

Savita gives me strength to find answers, says husband

Caroline Crawford

Published 19/01/2013 | 05:00

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THE husband of Savita Halappanavar says his late wife continues to give him strength in his fight for answers about her death.

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Praveen Halappanavar (34) admitted that he found the preliminary inquest hearing into Savita's death difficult but was able to cope because he felt she was with him at all times.

"It is not easy to sit there in the court to see all the proceedings. I believe I am getting that strength from somewhere so I can look forward," he said.

"Of course I believe it is coming from Savita, she was that kind of a person.

"She was always there for me so I hope I am getting that strength from her."

Mr Halappanavar was speaking after the preliminary inquest into the death of 34-year-old Savita was held in Galway yesterday.

The full inquest into her death will take place from April 8 in Galway and is expected to last for one week.

Savita died in hospital on October 28 last from suspected septicemia.

Her husband claimed that doctors at Galway University Hospital refused to carry out an abortion 17 weeks into her pregnancy because a foetal heartbeat was present.

During proceedings, concerns were raised about the confidentiality of witness statements after details were leaked to the media this week.

It included information in statements from medical staff that Ms Halappanavar had asked for a termination.

This information was not included in the medical reports.

Declan Buckley, who is counsel for the hospital, its staff and by extension the HSE, raised concerns that documents were being leaked to the press, adding that it had caused "significant distress and upset" for staff at the hospital who had assisted the inquiry in the belief that the statements were of a confidential nature.

He added that he did not wish to see the "drip, drip of misleading information" being disseminated over the next two months.

"This is not helpful and it is causing significant upset to staff of the hospital who feel their statements were given on a confidential basis but are now coming into the press, television and radio outlets," he said.

Confidential

Coroner Ciaran MacLoughlin called for all documentation to be kept confidential until it is heard by the inquest in April.

John O'Donnell, counsel for Mr Halappanavar, said that his legal team would comply with all their responsibilities under law.

A total of 48 witness statements have been given to all legal teams, with outstanding statements from a further six witnesses to be made available within a week.

An issue arose with two further witnesses who have not furnished statements, and have provided confidential information to the coroner as to why.

Dr MacLoughlin said he was satisfied with the explanations but would revisit the matter if their evidence became necessary.

A number of expert witnesses will be called during the hearing.

Dr MacLoughlin said he planned to call five expert witnesses, including the former Master of the National Maternity Hospital Dr Peter Boylan, along with a microbiologist and a number of pathologists.

Mr O'Donnell said they also expected to call a number of expert witnesses.

After the hearing, Mr Halappanavar said his wife's family in India were closely following the events.

"I was talking to them this morning because of all the media attention and they are still being approached.

"The first thing Savita's mom asked about was the law.

"As a mother she's concerned that what Savita and the family went through, we don't want any other woman or someone else's family to go through the same trauma we did," he said.

Irish Independent

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