Pathologist insists new evidence changer her mind, not police

PROSECUTORS in the trial of four doctors accused of medical negligence in the death of a 14-year-old boy yesterday completed their questioning of state pathologist Eleni Antoniou, who again admitted she had changed her statement on cause of death from septic shock to asphyxiation, but insisted this was due to new evidence and not pressure from police.

The hearing began with defense lawyer Michalakis Kyprianou requesting that a state prosecutor be taken off the case for influencing the hostile witness’ testimony by giving her questions and answers.

Kyprianou has sent a letter to the Attorney-general informing him of his complaint.

Antoniou told the court on Tuesday that she had come under pressure from two policemen, Mr Charalambous and Mr Christofi, to give a conclusive and accurate cause of death for 14-year-old George Hadjidemetri, who died in surgery in 2001.

However, yesterday she denied coming under any pressure from police to change her statement.

She said that her meetings with the police were not the reason for her changing her diagnosis. “In my first statement I listed a possible cause of death because my findings were not clear enough for me to reach a diagnosis. The police wanted an actual cause of death. However, the reason I changed my statement was not due to pressure from the police but due to new evidence I received from Dr Lysiotis,” said Antoniou.

Antoniou said that after she had received the histological results from Britain, it became more probable that Hadjidemetri had died of asphyxiation from a septic wound than septicemia.

“Until I received the results from Britain, I believed the probable cause of death was septic shock. Then I began to read more about the case in textbooks and changed my diagnosis. The results revealed there was only a two to five per cent chance the boy had died of septic shock.

When the prosecution questioned Antoniou on how Dr Lysiotis had biological samples belonging to Hadjidemetri, she said doctors (she did not know who) had given them to him.

Asked if it was possible that the biological samples were not Hadjidemetri’s, Antoniou said this was unlikely, as her esteemed colleagues would not give false samples.

The prosecution then asked Antoniou why she had not come forward with her new diagnosis sooner, especially since four doctors were on trial for medical negligence in connection with the death of Hadjidemetri.

“I didn’t know who to approach or what procedures to take,” said Antoniou. “However, nine days ago, I came to the state prosecution to tell them of my new diagnosis and your response was that you already had a cause of death that was septic shock,” said Antoniou.

The state prosecution then told Antoniou she should have gone straight to the Attorney-general with her new cause of death, to which she replied. “I did not know how to reach the Attorney-general.”

Once the prosecution had finished questioning Antoniou, the defence said they too wished to cross-examine the witness. The prosecution had no objection, as long as they did not seek through their questioning to re-establish her as a credible witness.
The court will re-convene on Monday.