The European Court of Human Rights

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A case of medical homicide. Summary of the medical facts of the case  

In this single case the Court refused to protect the Right to Life, and itself violated the Right to Freedom of Speech and the Right to an Impartial Tribunal of the applicant. 

All member states of the EU are required to be signed up to the ECHR and they accept the unappealable jurisdiction of the Court as regards the definition of their human rights. It will be clear that this case shows that the UK should not be subject to this Court, as supreme arbiter of what our human rights should and should not be.

It is on the basis of acceptance of the ECHR that the European Arrest Warrant rests. It ensures “fast-track” extradition from one EU state to another with no questions asked and no possibility for the receiving State to see or assess any evidence of wrongdoing by the suspect, or lack thereof. This is justified by the doctrine of “Mutual Recognition” of the justice and fairness of each other’s judicial decisions. The equivalence of such justice and fairness is blithely and blindly assumed by relying on the fact that all EU states are signed up to the Convention. This has produced numbers of unjust outcomes.

The wording of the Convention itself is sufficiently vague for Habeas Corpus rights to be amply violated without breach of the Convention, as interpreted by the Court. This is shown in another case (see here), where a suspect awaited his first public hearing in prison for nearly five years, and the ECHR found no fault with that. 

In this single other case, considered here, there were violations of no fewer than three human rights with the connivance, or indeed on the initiative, of the Court itself.

A brief summary of the facts of this case 

It is a case of medical homicide in Florence, Italy, where the victim, a British citizen, died as a result of two doctors having violated two laws. It is forbidden by law in Italy to prescribe an X-ray with barium without a doctor actually seeing the patient. And it is equally forbidden for an X-ray facility to administer barium to a patient without the presence of a doctor. It is a medical rule that barium should never ever be given to a patient with symptoms of an intestinal occlusion, because the occlusion can cause perforation of the walls of the intestine and if barium escapes from the intestine into other parts of the body, it kills the patient. The two laws that were broken serve precisely to prevent this happening. They were deliberately broken, to save time and trouble for the doctors concerned, with reckless disregard for the ensuing danger to their patient’s life. 

In this case, according to expert testimony, the patient had an intestinal occlusion, which any qualified doctor, even a non-specialist, would have seen. No doctor did see the patient. Her GP prescribed the X-ray with barium relying on her self-description of her symptoms over the phone. This was not negligence or accidental. He decided to break that law, for she lived 4 kilometres away and he doubtless wanted to save himself the trouble of going to visit her in person. However he told the investigators that he had visited her in her home. Other evidence shows clearly this was not true. This evidence was deliberately ignored by the investigators.

When she went to the X-ray laboratory with this incorrect prescription (which had been left for collection at the village chemist’s), she found no doctor, only the lab technician, who gave her the barium – a double dose – and carried out the X-ray. She had walked into the laboratory, but had to be wheeled out, by an orderly who told her domestic help who was with her, “this one has only a few days to live”. The next day indeed she died, in considerable pain. 

The doctor in charge of the laboratory, who was responsible for ensuring that a doctor should have been present, had evidently decided to do without, to save time and manpower. If any doctor had been present he or she would have noticed the intestinal occlusion and would have prevented the barium from being given. When questioned, the doctor in charge made verifiably untrue statements to the investigators about the organisation of the activity of the laboratory. The copious evidence of his untruthfulness was also deliberately ignored by the investigators.

So the Florentine investigators refused to look at the untrue statements by both doctors. They stopped the investigation and shelved the case as “insoluble”. The victim’s son, as injured party, had no other recourse than to apply to the European Court of Human Rights against Italy on a charge of violation of the Right to Life (article 2 of the Convention), which must be safeguarded by investigating all cases of homicide with due diligence. If investigations are not conducted with due care and thoroughness, then those responsible for homicide (whether murder or culpable manslaughter) are granted a de facto immunity and impunity for their misdeeds.

The ECHR refused to even consider the evidence of this obvious lack of due diligence by the Florentine investigators, and rejected the application. The UK’s Foreign Office of that period (late 1990s) refused to give any assistance at any stage to a British citizen clearly in distress. The victim in particular had worked tirelessly throughout World War II  for the Foreign Office as a volunteer at the British Legation in Stockholm.

The doctors involved could have been identified and censured or otherwise sanctioned. This would have provided a disincentive to similar slovenly work practices by others in future, and saved other lives.

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To be continued with further details which will be published here on INDEPENDENCE Daily next week. So: watch this space for the sequels!

 

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