Fiji Government Tries to Stop Abortion Practitioner From Reopening His Business
by Steven Ertelt
March 16, 2009
Suva, Fiji (LifeNews.com) — The Fiji government has filed legal papers in an attempt to stop Sachida Mudaliar from reopening his medical practice. Mudaliar is still on trial after having been previously found guilty of the death of student Poonam Kumar from a botched abortion he did on her.
Last year, a judicial panel ordered a new trial for Mudaliar concerning the March 2003 botched abortion.
Now Mudaliar wants to reopen his medical practice and says he should have the right to do so because his original conviction was quashed in favor of a new trial.
But the Fiji Solicitor-General Christopher Pryde filed an injunction today on behalf of the Ministry of Health to stop Mudaliar from resuming practicing medicine.
"We will reserve comments until after the matter has been heard by the court," he told the Fiji Times. Pryde added that he expected a court hearing soon.
Meanwhile, Director of Public Prosecutions Josaia Naigulevu says the Fiji Supreme Court had ordered a retrial on the case and that the process will move ahead shortly.
Attorneys for Mudaliar say he should have the right to reopen his medical practice because his original conviction was quashed in favor of a new trial. Naidu Law, the law firm representing the embattled physician, said their client had the right to engage in medicine again despite killing a patient.
However, interim Minister for Health, Dr. Neil Sharma, told the Times that Mudaliar was taken off the list of licensed physicians after the botched abortion.
"The ministry is seeking legal opinion from the Government’s legal arms to see if an injunction can be filed to stop Dr Mudaliar from practicing medicine until he is re-registered," Sharma said.
The firm told the Times that Mudaliar does not need to reapply for his license.
Sala Saketa, the Fiji Medical Council chair and permanent secretary for Health for the Fiji government, agreed with Sharma that Mudaliar must reapply to practice medicine again.
Last October, a panel of three judges ordered a new trial and dropped the conviction, which would have put Mudaliar in jail for three years.
The judges, including Justice Keith Mason, Justice Kenneth Handley and Justice Mark Weinberg ruled the previous trial was unfair and that both Justice Anthony Gates and the Fiji Court of Appeal failed to consider testimony from abortion practitioners from other nations.
Mudaliar’s attorneys also claimed in their legal papers that the trial was adjourned for 18 days after Judge Gates indicated he had to leave the country on a trip. They also said the victim’s boyfriend was cited as an accomplice in the botched abortion, yet he was not charged in the case.
The Fiji government argued the state proved its case and that an appeal is not warranted.
Officials found Kumar dead at Mudaliar’s abortion business in Nabua, after he left her overnight in his abortion business following her death.
Gates, in his ruling, said Mudaliar was guilty of botching the abortion and guilty of gross negligence in the case.
Gates said Mudaliar knew that Kumar was at risk if she underwent the abortion. She was 20 weeks pregnant at the time and had excessive bleeding and shock after the abortion. The abortion tore her uterus and led to the massive bleeding.
In his ruling, Gates cited Mudaliar’s failure to transfer Kumar to the intensive care unit at the Colonial War Memorial Hospital once he noticed the abortion went awry.
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