Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

4 Sivan 5766 - May 31, 2006 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











Police Demand Autopsy for Infant in Ashdod; Community Protests

By Betzalel Kahn

Ashdod residents are up in arms following a demand by police to have an autopsy performed on a baby that died suddenly Sunday morning. Through the intervention of Atty. Rabbi Moshe Elmaliach and ZAKA's legal department, the court denied the request for an autopsy, except for a blood test. If the police persist, the case will be turned over to the High Court.

Sunday morning a chareidi mother brought the one-and-a-half- year-old in her arms to a market in Rova Chet owned by two Hatzoloh volunteers. The sobbing woman asked them to save her sick daughter, who was unconscious and suffering from high fever, but their efforts failed.

A short time later the police demanded that the body be delivered to the Abu Kabir Forensics Institute for an autopsy, but the family refused to allow this violation of kovod hameis.

The baby was taken to the morgue at the Ashdod Cemetery where hundreds gathered at the doorway to prevent the body from being carted off.

Atty. Elmaliach explained to the judge that halochoh forbids autopsies, except for external examinations, x-rays and blood tests. The judge ordered an examination be performed in stages starting with a blood test to try to determine the cause of death, followed by x-rays and only later the removal of tissue from the head. If these steps did not aid in the investigation of the cause of death, the two sides were instructed to return to the court for a hearing to consider the possibility of a general autopsy.

Atty. Elmaliach objected, saying that removing tissues constitutes a partial autopsy. He demanded the judge's decision be delayed pending a High Court appeal. The judge agreed to limit the initial investigation to a blood test, x- ray and external exam, but the police later insisted a tissue sample be taken from the head as well.

At this point hundreds of protesters gathering at the cemetery in Ashdod and at Kikar HaShabbat in Jerusalem. The police sent in heavy forces to maintain order, but the protesters prevented them from removing the baby's body from the cemetery. Late into the night talks were held between the police and askonim, who wanted the procedures to be conducted at the local hospital rather than Abu Kabir.

Protests spread throughout the Geula section of Jerusalem, and included burning garbage on Bar Ilan street late into the night.

In a similar case several months ago forensics experts at the institute completely disregarded a judge's order to perform an autopsy in stages.

Rabbonim and public figures say that MRI scanning allows forensics experts to determine the cause of death with a purely external examination. With a relatively small investment the State could purchase a machine and almost completely stop performing conventional autopsies.

Late Sunday night anonymous chareidi figures broke into the morgue at the cemetery and took away the body without the knowledge of the local rabbonim, askonim or family members.


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