Wednesday, April 13, 2011

KENYA: UK doctor abused small boys...

A world renowned heart specialist is facing misconduct proceedings in London over allegations he sexually abused young boys under his care in Kenya.
In a case that has been robustly taken up by the UK media, Prof Philipp Bonhoeffer, was suspended from practising two years ago by the UK’s General Medical Council (GMC) — the doctors disciplinary body — prohibiting him to practise as a doctor in that country.
Last Friday, his lawyers moved to the High Court in London, arguing the council was being unfair in allowing hearsay evidence against their client to a panel hearing.
Questions are being raised over the council’s decision to admit the evidence of a Kenyan witness while refusing to take him to London to testify.
The council claims that doing so would expose the man, now married and said to be in his late 20s, to reprisals both from the Kenyan law and people loyal to the specialist.

Homosexuality is illegal in Kenya.
In 2000, Prof Bonhoeffer performed the world’s first operation to repair a patient’s heart without the need for risky open-heart surgery.
Working through Chain of Hope, a UK charity organisaton, where he was chairman of its medical operations, they for many years organised missions to Kenya to attend to children with heart problems.

By the time of his suspension in 2009 he was working at the London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital.
According to a BBC report, the doctor’s lawyer, Mr Keiran Coonan, told the court the allegations had risen from Prof Bonheffer’s work as a doctor in Kenya, where he funded the education of several young people, and paid for their accommodation and living expenses.
The funding, says the report, had ceased around the time the allegations were made.
The reports indicate that a complaint had been raised by the Kenyan, only identified as Witness A, in 2008 to the Metropolitan Police in London who travelled to Kenya to interview him and his associates.
Witness A, the court was told, was willing to travel to London to give evidence, with the General Medical Council having agreed to meet his expenses as well as those for his wife and child.

He is the only complainant and is not supported by others who received similar financial support from the doctor.

However, the Metropolitan Police is said to have advised against this, claiming the family could risk general reprisals because homosexuality was illegal and Kenyan society was hostile to gay people.
The medical council is quoted to have claimed that Prof Bonhoeffer, who is 49 and single, had contacted the victim last year in an attempt to convince him not to give evidence, including “offering him incentives to retract his complaint”.
Based on these, the council decided to allow the presentation of transcripts from the Nairobi interviews, a development the doctor’s lawyers are contesting in court.
On Friday, the court deferred its ruling to a later date.
A financial statement by Chain of Hope says it has been organising missions to Mater Hospital in Nairobi since 2005 to help treat children suffering from complex congenital and rheumatic heart diseases.