Prosecutors accused over FGM trial

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Published: Thursday 5th February 2015 by The News Editor

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Prosecutors have been accused of launching an ill-judged trial against a young doctor for female genital mutilation (FGM) because of “mounting” political pressure.

A jury yesterday took less than 30 minutes to acquit Dr Dhanuson Dharmasena, who had been accused of carrying out the illegal procedure in the first prosecution of its kind in the UK.

Another man, Hasan Mohamed, 41, was also cleared of abetting the offence.

Today Mr Mohamed’s lawyer accused the Crown Prosecution Service of pursuing the case because it was under pressure to “get results” – but warned it had taken a huge toll on the two men accused.

Ali Hussain said: “There has been mounting pressure on the CPS to do something. The MP Keith Vaz has said the charges were brought 72 hours before the director of public prosecutions was going to the Home Affairs Select Committee.

“It seems as if the CPS was under pressure to do something and decided on this case. Maybe they thought, doctor, Somali guy, it is going to look great. But obviously, it has backfired massively.”

He added: “I think there must be some kind of trickle effect. They wanted results and they wanted to be in a position to say to the select committee we have got one prosecution under way, having spent the last 30 years not able to prosecute anybody.

“But the case has a human cost.”

Mr Hussain said it was “possible” his client’s Somali ethnicity played a role in the case being pursued, adding: “I think it fits that profile – that his ethnicity played a role in this.”

The trial heard the woman, known only as AB, had been subjected to FGM as a six year-old in Somalia.

She went into emergency labour at the Whittington Hospital in north London on November 24 2012, where it was alleged Dr Dharmasena, under pressure from Mr Mohamed, reinstated her FGM after the birth.

But the jury speedily acquitted the pair. Mr Hussain warned that both Mr Mohamed and the woman, known only as AB, both have grounds to consider complaints against the police and hospital respectively.

He said: “Mr Mohamed is ecstatic obviously and he is happy to get back to his normal life after about 15 months of having this hanging over him

“As somebody who has been acquitted I imagine the first thing on his mind will be to get rid of his fingerpints and DNA from the police database and to find out if his arrest, detention and prosecution was lawful.

“Any complaint he may have is likely to be against the police.

“The underlying message is that, yes, people should be prosecuted, but they just weren’t the right people to be brought before the court.”

Alison Saunders, director of public prosecutions, defended the decision to prosecute the men.

She told BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme: “We prosecute the cases that are referred to us. We know that FGM is an incredibly difficult crime for families to come forward and make a complaint about.”

She said the “classic” case of a child being cut at the behest of their family is “a very difficult one to fight” because the victim is very reluctant to contact police.

And she insisted the CPS was right to bring the case, pointing out that the judge rejected two applications to dismiss the case.

Published: Thursday 5th February 2015 by The News Editor

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