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Sick notes case doctors in plea.

TWO doctors accused of selling sick notes to healthy people who want to dodge work have pleaded not guilty to forgery.

The Bahrainis, aged 26 and 34, appeared in the High Criminal Court for the first time yesterday to enter their plea.

Both work at Salmaniya Medical Complex (SMC) and were arrested after police tapped the 26-year-old's phone following a tip-off.

Officers then contacted the orthopaedic surgeon, who agreed to sell a two-day sick note to an undercover agent for BD30 last December, according to court documents.

He was arrested when the exchange took place near Al Ahli Club, in Zinj, and initially told prosecutors he did it because he needed the money.

"I give sick leave to friends for BD10 to BD20," the doctor said in

his statement

"I have worked at SMC since 2013 and at the BDF Hospital for two years before that.

"My salary is BD1,500 and due to my poor financial situation, I charged money in return for sick leave.

"I usually supervise patients with bone injuries and in the emergency section.

"I am allowed to give sick leave only to these patients and I needed to raise extra money.

"I received a call from someone who asked for a two-day sick leave and I thought he was a friend's relative.

"I agreed and charged him BD15 for each document."

The doctor said he showed up for the exchange in his Porsche and police swooped soon after the money

changed hands.

It then emerged the sick leave had actually been signed by his 34-year-old co-defendant, but the orthopaedic surgeon claimed his colleague had no idea that he planned to sell the medical note.

"It was the first time he agreed to sign a sick leave and hand it to me," said the 26-year-old in his statement.

"He trusted me and I told him it was for my sick friend, who could not show up at the hospital.

"He had no idea that I was charging money for it -- or that the person did not deserve sick leave.

"I usually ask other doctors to help me out with sick leave due to my lack of authority to issue them.

"I hope I will be forgiven for what I have done, which I regret.

"My mother fainted when she found out what had happened. This is my first ever case."

However, the 34-year-old co-defendant has been charged with aiding and abetting forgery.

Their trial was yesterday adjourned until May 6 to summon prosecution witnesses.

It was claimed during a medical conference in 2009 that rampant sick leave was costing Bahrain's economy BD2 billion every year.

In January last year, a Bahraini sentenced to five years in jail for faking illness to get two days off work had his prison term reduced on appeal.

He was convicted of forgery by the High Criminal Court after producing a fake medical certificate, but the Supreme Criminal Appeals Court reduced his sentence to two years.

His male relative, who helped him obtain the sick note, also had his prison sentence reduced from three years to two on appeal.

noorz@gdn.com.bh

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Publication:Gulf Daily News (Manama, Bahrain)
Date:Apr 15, 2015
Words:537
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