Hungarian Home Birth Campaigner on Trial
For alleged malpractice, a prominent Hungarian midwife and home birth campaigner went on trial in a controversial case that could see her receive a long prison sentence.
Supporters of Agnes Gereb, 60, who has been under pre-trial house arrest for over two years, say she has been victimised by aggressive state prosecutors and the medical establishment.
Hungarian doctors are often paid informal "gratitude" tips for services in hospitals including assisting in birthing.
Gereb, who has delivered 3,500 babies in private homes, received a two-year prison sentence in February 2012 as well as a 10-year ban on practising gynaecology and midwifery over the deaths of two newborns in 2006 and 2007.
The enforcement of the sentence however was postponed following her request for clemency to President Janos Ader, who has said he will wait until after the verdict in the current trial before deciding on a pardon.
Donal Kerry, spokesperson for a campaign group supporting Gereb, said that in most other European Union countries the case would be before a professional midwife investigation committee rather than a criminal court.
The latest criminal charges relate to three separate cases of alleged negligent malpractice as well as carrying out home births during a period when she was banned.
"Agnes has the full public support of the three mothers in the birth cases coming before the court," said Kerry, who added that six international women?s and human rights organisations have called on Hungary's justice minister to review the case.