High Court green-lights autopsy on baby who drowned in jacuzzi
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High Court green-lights autopsy on baby who drowned in jacuzzi

Rejecting family’s petition and siding with police, justices say there is no alternative to examination to help pinpoint cause of death

Attornies Moshe Almaliach (C) and Itamar Ben Gvir (L) representing the family of the drowned infant from Ashdod, speak with media after a discussion at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, on April 4, 2018 (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Attornies Moshe Almaliach (C) and Itamar Ben Gvir (L) representing the family of the drowned infant from Ashdod, speak with media after a discussion at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, on April 4, 2018 (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

The High Court of Justice on Wednesday authorized an autopsy on the body of the one-month-old baby who drowned in a hotel jacuzzi on Monday, rejecting the family’s petition against the procedure.

The autopsy will be performed in the presence of a doctor picked by the family, Hebrew media reported, after the court accepted the police request for a post-mortem examination.

Handing down the decision, the justices said that although they respected the religious sensitivities of the family, they felt they had no choice but to deny their petition.

Jewish tradition generally opposes autopsies on the grounds that the body is sacred and should not be tampered with after death.

The Ashkelon Magistrate’s Court on Tuesday agreed to a police request to perform the autopsy but delayed implementation to give the family time to appeal to the High Court.

The court also extended a gag order on additional details of the case to protect the baby’s parents — who are in detention as suspects in the drowning — as well as their seven-year-old son.

One of the family’s lawyers, Itamar Ben Gvir, said the High Court’s decision “harmed not only the family and the sensitivities of the (Orthodox Jewish) public, but foremost the body of a one-month-old baby.”

On Monday night, ultra-Orthodox Jews in Jerusalem and Ashdod protested the investigation and the possible autopsy, temporarily blocking traffic and the light rail system and clashing with police. There were further demonstrations in Jerusalem on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Ultra-Orthodox Jewish men clash with police in Jerusalem’s Mea Shearim neighborhood April 4, 2018, during a protest against the carrying out of an autopsy on a baby that drowned to death in coastal Ashdod. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

The baby drowned while the family, from the city of Beit Shemesh near Jerusalem, was vacationing in a hotel in the coastal city of Ashdod during the Passover holiday.

Paramedics said they attempted to resuscitate the infant and rushed him to the city’s Assuta Medical Center, but medical staff were unable to save his life.

Initial reports said that the baby’s father was asleep and his mother was in the tub with her son, but he slipped out of her hands.

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