Weak Autopsy Results in Suicide

The hanging body of a man named Nur Islam was recovered in June 2016 in Belkuchi upazila of Sirajganj. In the incident, the autopsy doctor gave an opinion that the person had committed suicide. Belkuchi police also said in the investigation that the incident was a suicide.

However, three years later, the Bureau of Investigation (PBI) found that Nur Islam had been killed by suffocation, not suicide. His body was hung from a tree to tell the story of his suicide.

This incident is the proof of the importance of proper autopsy to know whether it is murder or suicide. Identifying the culprit, proving the crime, knowing the probable time of death — all in all, proper autopsy is essential for the judicial process. An investigation report cannot be submitted to the court without an autopsy report. But there is a shortage of forensic experts in the country who will do the autopsy properly. For this reason, autopsy was done with the medical officer in the hospitals of the district headquarters. Apart from this, due to various mismanagement of morgues in the country, wrong report of autopsy comes. The victim’s family is deprived of justice.

The PBI is preparing a report highlighting the deficit and mismanagement of the morgue in the autopsy report. The report will be sent to the Department of Health soon. Detailed evidence of 24 cases in which an autopsy was considered a suicide was attached to the report. However, chargesheets have already been filed in these cases.

PBI chief and Additional Inspector General of Police Banaj Kumar Majumder told Prothom Alo that the autopsy was an important issue from the initial investigation into the murder. But autopsy doctors do not have basic training. They depend on the dome. The morgue does not have infrastructural and scientific equipment. The autopsy is wrong. He said the police were also not interested in going beyond the opinion of the autopsy doctor. Due to these reasons, in many cases, murder is becoming suicide. In such a situation, the victim’s family is being deprived of justice.

Nur Islam’s body was autopsied by Faisal Ahmed, medical officer of Bangamata Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib General Hospital in Sirajganj. He has no degree in forensic medicine. He has only taken training in this regard. When asked, the doctor told Prothom Alo that he did not remember the autopsy of Nur Islam.

Nur Islam has committed suicide, as his family initially thought. Nur Islam’s daughter Morzina Khatun told Prothom Alo , “Initially, we accepted the incident as suicide. However, the defendants were repeatedly trying to reach an agreement. We doubt it. Later, the PBI investigation revealed that the father had been killed.

The morgue of Bangamata Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib General Hospital has no modern infrastructure, equipment and permanent dome. In the autopsy reports of this hospital in 2019 and 2020, three bodies were initially identified as men. But DNA tests revealed that three of the bodies were women. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

Asked about the weaknesses in the autopsy, the hospital’s caretaker Saiful Islam told Prothom Alo that the PBI’s investigation was not always accurate. It is seen that in some cases the death sentence of the accused is given in the lower court. But all the accused were acquitted in the high court. So there is no point in saying these things.

Bangamata Sheikh Fazilatunnesa Mujib General Hospital is just one example of the shortcomings in the autopsy system. The PBI says there is a lack of autopsy, mismanagement and lack of coordination in almost all medical colleges and hospitals in the country. Many medical colleges, including district hospitals, do not have forensic specialists. There is no separate place in the morgue for storing various specimens including body viscera. Many medical college hospitals do not even have a system for storing corpses. There are also shortages in the supply of containers, preservatives and chemicals for sampling. Due to this many symptoms are lost. If there are no preservatives, arrangements are made to preserve the body through salt water. Samples sent to the histopathological lab are stored with low quality formalin. These samples were later sent to multiple laboratories. Reports from the laboratory are late.

The bodies were autopsied at three medical colleges in Dhaka. The oldest morgue is Sir Salimullah Medical College. According to the concerned persons, the refrigerator (fridge) for storing the body in this morgue of Tin Tent has been damaged for more than a year and a half. So it is not possible to save the body. Unclaimed bodies in particular are left in a side room. The bodies of at least 20 police stations from Dhaka and surrounding areas came there for autopsy. Every day 3 to 4 bodies are autopsied. Although there are supposed to be 12 specialist doctors, there are only 3.