Story By: Gheorghi Caraseni, Sub Editor: Joseph Golder, Agency: Central European News
These two female doctors are set to stand trial for murder after being accused of purposefully injecting a premature newborn baby with little chance of survival with a lethal dose of antibiotics.
Doctors Elina Sushkevich and Elena Belaya, who worked at the 4th Maternity Hospital in the city of Kaliningrad in the Russian region of the same name, have been taken to court on a charge of murdering the unnamed baby boy on 6th November 2018.
Prosecutors allege Belaya, who was head of the maternity hospital, ordered neonatologist Sushkevich to inject a lethal dose of magnesium sulfate into the premature baby. The boy died after the alleged injection, they claim.
But colleagues of the medics across the country are outraged, in particular on behalf of Elina Shushkevich who was popular and well liked, and who they say is being prosecuted simply for doing her job.
They have taken to the streets In their hundreds with placards saying “I am Elina Sushkevich” to indicate that what happened to her could happen to any of them and adding to rising discontent over stagnating real wages, closer scrutiny from police and hospital closures.
Ilya Skachkov, a doctor in Perm who joined the protests said: “It’s becoming ever more dangerous to work as a medic.”
And workers of a maternity clinic in Vladimir, a city 200 kilometers east of Moscow wrote: “The time has come when a doctor risks their freedom just for trying to save a child’s life. The case of Elina Sushkevich is a wild injustice and an absurdity.”
The boy’s parents, originally from Tajikistan, filed a complaint accusing the doctors for killing their child and, after almost two years of investigation, a criminal case, based on Article 105 of the Russian Criminal Code (Murder), has arrived to the Kaliningrad Regional Court.
Elena Belaya’s lawyer Larisa Guseva said the trial will be held at an unspecified later date due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Guseva said both defendants have already filed a motion for trial by jury.
The lawyer for the other defendant, Kamil Babasov, said: “Many people tried to dissuade us from a trial by jury as they were of the opinion that accusing women of killing a baby would put pressure on the jury, and they will issue a guilty verdict.
“But we believe in our fellow citizens, in their impartiality and justice, as Elina Sushkevich is sure that she did not commit the crime she is accused of.”
Many doctors have supported the two defendants during the investigation as they claim that the women are not guilty and there was no intentional killing or medical error in the case.
The Russian Society of Neonatologists believe that the baby could not have received a lethal dose of the drug, as the magnesium content in his body was not only not excessive, it was 1.5 times lower than normal.
But if found guilty, the women face up to 15 years behind bars.
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