independent

Wednesday 16 April 2014

Death certificate not available to gardai

Inquiries launched very quickly after Savita's tragic death

Gardai were called to Galway University Hospital and began inquiries very quickly after Savita Halappanavar's death and after they were told that a death certificate was "not forthcoming", it has emerged.

Sources say Savita's husband, Praveen Halappanavar will be questioned about his reported remark that he was told "this is a Catholic country" by a member of staff after, he claimed, his wife and he had repeatedly requested a termination of the pregnancy and his wife's health deteriorated.

It is not known why a death certificate was not issued and gardai notified of the death but the fact that no certificate was signed indicates there were concerns among hospital staff about the circumstances surrounding the death.

In a statement yesterday the gardai said: " An Garda Siochana are assisting the coroner in relation to the death of Savita Halappanavar who died in the early hours of Sunday, October 28, 2012, at University Hospital Galway."

Sources said they were called to the hospital on the same day she died, October 28.

Under law, gardai are only called in cases where "a medical certificate of the cause of death is not procurable" – in instances where there is uncertainty or suspicions over a death.

The 1962 Coroner's Act outlines the circumstances under which gardai and the coroner must be called. It states: "Every medical practitioner, registrar of deaths or funeral undertaker and every occupier of a house or mobile dwelling, and every person in charge of any institution or premises, in which a deceased person was residing at the time of his death, who has reason to believe that the deceased person died, either directly or indirectly, as a result of violence or misadventure or by unfair means, or as a result of negligence or misconduct or malpractice on the part of others, or from any cause other than natural illness or disease for which he had been seen and treated by a registered medical practitioner within one month before his death, or in such circumstances as may require investigation (including death as the result of the administration of an anaesthetic), shall immediately notify the coroner within whose district the body of the deceased person is lying of the facts and circumstances relating to the death."

According to sources yesterday the gardai will carry out the standard inquiries to assist the coroner and, in this highly controversial instance, this will involve the questioning of every member of staff who had contact with Mrs Halappanavar from the point of her admission to days earlier and of her husband, Praveen.

Sunday Independent

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