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Experts say medical staff failed to save arrested Cucchi

16/01/2013

'Severe lack of food, water' caused Italian clerk's death

Experts say medical staff failed to save arrested Cucchi

Rome, January 16 - Doctors and nurses paid no attention to the mistreatment and malnutrition that took the life of Italian detainee Stefano Cucchi, according to an expert report released Wednesday during a criminal court trial into his death. The judicial report backs up findings from forensic exams into the death of Cucchi, a 31-year-old surveyor's clerk who died on October 22, 2009 while in police custody in Rome. That earlier forensic evidence concluded the Cucchi was not properly treated by hospital staff, and that his death was caused by a "severe shortage of food and liquids". The findings of the experts is important for the criminal trial of 12 people, including six doctors and three nurses from Rome's Pertini prison hospital along with three jail staff. They stand accused of contributing to his death by abandonment, abuse of office, causing injury, and abuse of authority. Meanwhile, Cucchi's father demanded an apology from Italy's minister of justice, adding he has been forced to mortgage the family home to pay legal bills. "Stefano is just the tip of an iceberg that shows how the system is wrong," Giovanni Cucchi said outside the court proceedings. Wednesday's expert report also noted that shoddy records were kept at the Pertini prison clinic where Cucchi died, with few notes on the victim's weight, body temperature, or heart rate while he was a patient. "The doctors never realized that they were facing an important case of malnutrition, and did not monitor the patient in this respect, nor ask for the intervention of specialists," concluded one of the court-appointed experts Marco Grandi. He said doctors in the case also paid "little attention to a physical examination of the patient". An autopsy shortly after Cucchi's death found he was severely dehydrated, had two broken vertebrae and internal organ damage. The report also said that "the traumatic injuries on Cucchi's body correspond with both aggression and with an accidental fall". A previous parliamentary committee concluded in 2010 that Cucchi died from severe dehydration. Prosecutors at hearings in April 2010 said that the doctors failed to carry out even "the most basic checks" on the injured detainee, a drug addict with a history of health problems caused by low blood sugar.