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Swedish doc to face trial over baby's death

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Swedish doc to face trial over baby's death
17:34 CET+01:00
The paediatrician suspected of the alleged mercy killing of a baby at Astrid Lindgren's Children's Hospital in Stockholm in September 2008 is to face trial for manslaughter, the prosecutor decided Tuesday.

Following the announcement defence lawyer Björn Hurtig said he would take it up with the Swedish prosecutor-general. His client is reportedly devastated by the news.

The three-month-old baby was terminally ill with serious brain damage after having been born 15 weeks premature. The birth was complicated and the baby was born unconscious due to a lack of oxygen.

The doctor was charged with manslaughter following the suspicion of deliberately having administered a high dose of the anaesthetic Pentothal in combination with morphine, in order to speed up the baby's death.

The baby girl's condition worsened when a nurse administered an overdose of saline solution at birth.

A subsequent ultrasound revealed that the newborn had suffered from cerebral haemorrhaging on both sides of her brain.

The case generated a heated debate in Sweden.

Medical colleagues and the unions criticized the police and prosecutors for their handling of the case following the public arrest of the doctor at her place of work in March 2009.

The doctor was subsequently released from custody after a successful appeal and denied any wrongdoing. She was suspended from her position at the hospital throughout the course of the investigation.

A report from Sweden's National Board of Health and Welfare (Socialstyrelsen) published in October 2009 cleared the doctor of any wrongdoing in connection with the baby's death.

The board did however confirm the findings from an autopsy conducted on the baby, which found abnormally high levels of both Pentothal and morphine in the child's blood.

The board was at the time unable to explain the existence of the anaesthetic as its use was not mentioned anywhere in the medical records.

It is now up to the district court in Solna to set a trial date. Manslaughter carries a penalty of between six and ten years in prison in Sweden.

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