Posted by www.equatorialguineaonline.com – May 14th, 2012
The Provincial Court of Bata recently issued its judgment in the trial of Wenceslao Mansogo Alo and the anesthesiologist Asuncion Asumu Mangue, both defendants in a case of criminal negligence arising from professional malpractice resulting in the death of the patient Isilda Mangue Engo.
The interest of the press in this case stems from the fact that Dr. Mansogo is a known leader of the Convergence for Social Democracy (CPDS). This political group has spread the idea that the prosecution of Mansogo is the result of political persecution. However, the case stems solely from a private party’s accusation: that made by the family of Isilda Mangue Engo, a patient who died in Dr. Mansogo’s clinic after suffering two heart attacks during an operation that the surgeon was to perform.
The trial was conducted in the city of Bata, on April 9, by the criminal division of the Litoral Provincial Court presided by Judge Eliseo Mangue Nvo Oyana. Dr. Wenceslao Mansogo was represented by the attorneys Ponciano Mbomio Nvo and Elias Nzo Ondo, while the anesthetist was represented by attorney Santiago Mbasi Ondo. The prosecutor in the case, Claudio Ndongula Mesanga, previously requested a sentence of six years in prison.
During the trial, the defendant disputed the conclusions of the report issued earlier by the technical committee chaired by Dr. Salomon Nguema Owono, which determined that the death of the deceased was caused by the anesthesia that was administered. He also argued that his clinic did not lack the professional or technical means to perform the planned surgery.
For her part, the prosecuted anesthetist, in spite of her disagreement with the expert report, acknowledged that the patient suffered two cardiac arrests during the preparation for the operation, which forced her to call two professional colleagues from the Bata Regional Hospital (Drs. Apolinar Gonzalez Pelayo and the anesthetist Asuncion Edeguedegue), in the absence of assistance and personnel at the clinic where the operation was taking place. Those specialists also appeared as witnesses in the trial.
Relatives of the victim, her husband, Julian Yekue Nsi, and her father, Gil Engo Aba Abogo, also testified. The husband of the deceased said that when he went to collect the body he was given two different explanations for his wife’s death: one, that the deceased could not withstand the anesthesia applied and a second, that the patient had died from cardiac arrest.
The sentence records, as proven facts ‑among others- that the coordination between the surgeon and anesthetist was not good, since the latter had to call two friends from a different clinic, when the patient had already suffered a second cardiac arrest, given the lack of coordination and lack of assistance due to the absence of staff assigned to the anesthesiology and resuscitation section.
The sentence also questions the urgency of the operation ‑performed the same day as the visit of the patient with her anesthesiologist‑ since Isilda Mangue’s condition was not serious. Similarly, the court rejected the claim that the genital organs of the deceased had been removed during the operation, a charge initially made against the doctor by the family of the deceased.
The ruling specifically finds the accused guilty of a crime of punishable negligence, arising from professional negligence resulting in death, with the following sentences: Dr. Wenceslao Mansogo Alo is sentenced to three years of medium-term imprisonment, suspension from the practice of his profession for five years and a fine of 1,500,000 CFA francs.
The anesthetist Asuncion Mangue was sentenced to six months and one day in prison, suspended from the exercise of her profession for the duration of the sentence, and a fine of 500,000 CFA francs. It was also agreed to temporarily close the Espoir Litoral medical center in Bata for the duration of the owner’s sentence, although the clinic is obliged to pay five million CFA francs to the survivors of the deceased as compensatory damages.
Despite the claims of the CPDS party and other criticisms in this regard, the case has arisen from a completely private accusation from the family of the deceased patient, and was carried out under the guaranty of independence of the judiciary. The accused were tried in the first instance, and can appeal the sentence, following the usual channels prescribed by the justice system.
Wenceslao Mansogo has always exercised his political career as well as his medical profession with respect and freedom in Equatorial Guinea. To demand special treatment for Dr. Mansogo, accused by a private family, because he is a politician known abroad and belonging to the opposition would be a clear distortion of the most important democratic and social values, and an attack on the right to justice demanded by the family of the victim ‑anonymous and private‑ who presented this complaint.