Court Bars Autopsy on Baby Who Allegedly Died of Neglect

The six-month-old baby who died Monday due to alleged neglect by her mentally unstable parents was laid to rest yesterday hours after the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court rejected a police request to perform an autopsy.

But police are continuing to probe the baby's parents, both of whom are known to Jerusalem welfare officials. The parents allegedly failed to provide the baby with adequate medical care after it fell ill several days ago. Police are also trying to determine whether the parents abused any of their other six children.

According to investigators, the mother has made contradictory statements about the events that preceded the baby's death: She told police she felt the baby was "like a frozen chicken" as early as 4 A.M. on Monday, yet she summoned an ambulance to her Katamon home only hours later.

At yesterday's hearing, police said the mother's conflicting statements aroused suspicions about her conduct the day the baby died. Initially, investigator Ilana Shezo said, the mother claimed she was constantly at the baby's side. But she later said she went out, leaving the baby in her husband's care, and only after she returned home at 7:30 A.M. did she notice something was amiss.

On yet another occasion, the mother said her husband called her at 11 A.M. to tell her the baby was not breathing, and it was at this point that the parents called an ambulance. And in still another account, Shezo continued, the mother claimed to have noticed the baby's dangerous condition at 2:30 A.M. on Monday.

The investigator said the baby suffered from malnutrition, weighing just 5.5 kilograms at her death.

Dror Schussheim, the attorney representing the parents, rejected accusations of neglect, pointing out that the baby had been ill for two weeks, during which the parents brought her to the hospital.