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Parents 'could have saved baby'

THE Australian parents charged with manslaughter could have saved their baby's life if they had sent her to hospital sooner rather than using homeopathic remedies for a severe skin disorder, a prosecutor said yesterday.

Thomas Sam, 42, and Manju Sam, 36, of Sydney, pleaded not guilty in New South Wales' Supreme Court on Monday to charges of manslaughter in the death of their 9-month-old daughter Gloria, who died of septicemia and malnutrition in May 2002.

The Indian-born, university-educated parents face a maximum penalty of 25 years each in prison if convicted.

Prosecutor Mark Tedeschi told a jury that they admitted their daughter to a Sydney hospital only three days before she died and "her life and her health could have been saved" with earlier proper medical attention.

He said any reasonable parent would have sought urgent conventional medical help as the baby's health steadily deteriorated over the final five months of her life due to severe eczema.

Instead, Thomas Sam, a college lecturer in homeopathy, continued to consult homeopaths and natural medicine practitioners as his daughter lost 20 percent of her body weight, Tedeschi said.

Manju Sam, a computer professional, disregarded a doctor's advice not to take the child to India to visit relatives in the final three months of her life, Tedeschi told the court.

"The two parents were almost totally fixated on their social obligations - visiting people and traveling around - to the exclusion of any concern about Gloria's deteriorating state of health," Tedeschi said.

The trial continues.


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