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Doctors deny negligence charges in boy’s death, teacher under disciplinary probe (Update 2)

Larnaca court

Two state doctors denied charges on Thursday in connection with the death of a 10-year-old boy last week, while a disciplinary probe against his teacher was set to begin.

The two doctors, 37, and 65, face two charges of causing death through a reckless or dangerous act and reckless and negligent actions.

According to the charges the doctors had failed to spot a skull fracture on an x-ray and did not ask the opinion of a radiologist. Instead of keeping the boy under observation they discharged him, prosecutors said.

Their trial is set to start on September 28.  The two medics were released after signing a €10,000 bond and surrendering their travel documents.

The charge sheet lists 61 prosecution witnesses.

The doctors were arrested on the weekend after the death of Stavros Giorgallis from Alethriko.

Giorgallis had hit his head while playing basketball at school.

He was rushed to Larnaca general hospital by his mother where doctors at the A&E department ran tests and took an x-ray.

The doctors found nothing wrong at the time and the boy was sent home. He was rushed back two hours later in critical condition.

Following a CT scan in Larnaca, Giorgallis was rushed to Nicosia general for surgery after the scan showed a haematoma. The boy died on the operating table.

A radiologist later found that the x-ray showed a skull fracture, according to police.

The doctors’ prosecution prompted a fierce reaction from their colleagues who staged a two-hour strike on Wednesday. They claim that state doctors are overworked as state facilities were understaffed.

In a press conference, Education Minister Costas Hambiaouris announced the teacher responsible for the class during which the 10-year-old was injured would be the subject of a disciplinary probe.

A day earlier, Hambiaouris had received the results of an investigation on whether the school had acted in accordance by correctly following procedures in place.

The minister said the teacher would remain at work but did not wish to comment further on the report’s findings due to the nature of the case.

“We have to stress that this is a probe. The teacher is not guilty, we have to be clear on that.”

The results are expected to be ready by the end of next week, Hambiaouris said during a press conference.

At the moment, the probe is centered around the teacher, who said he was present at the time of the incident, but if the investigator deems it necessary to take statements from more people or believes that there may be others responsible, then the investigator can proceed accordingly.

“We will do what we promised. An independent investigation will be carried out and a clear picture on how the incident took place will be made public.”

For now, there is no need to remove the teacher from his post. Asked if the remaining teachers followed protocol, Hambiaouris said this would be revealed through the probe.

The teacher had been responsible for organising and running the class during the time of the accident.

Hambiaouris said matters of school health and safety were a top priority for his ministry which would move to further strengthen them.

“Measures are being taken, there are protocols. It was an unfortunate incident, there is always room for improvement.”

Panic should not ensure with the public believing schools are akin to a field and that students are in danger.

“Accidents will happen whatever measures we take. What matters is that we see where there are weaknesses, be honest in front of our children and ourselves and make improvements.”

 

 

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