Medical experts call for Kathleen Folbigg to be pardoned

As journalist Quentin McDermott so poignantly wrote at The Weekend Australian: “One year ago this week, in a world first, two Nobel prize winners backed a petition to the Governor of NSW calling for the pardon and release of a woman once viewed as Australia’s most notorious ‘child killer’ – Kathleen Folbigg.

“Last year’s petition was endorsed by the Australian Academy of Science, and supported by more than 150 scientists, including Nobel laureates professors Elizabeth Blackburn and Peter Doherty. It argued, with the benefit of fresh genetic evidence, that Folbigg ‘has been wrongfully incarcerated because the justice system has failed her’.

“Twelve months on, the petitioners are still awaiting a decision.”

The responsibility for that decision lies primarily with NSW Attorney-General Mark Speakman. He argues that he is taking so long because the petition and its accompanying submissions are “complex and voluminous”. However, he has refused offers of assistance from the scientific community.

Her lawyers Rhanee Rego and Dr Robert Cavanagh describe the “delay is astounding, the process opaque and the lack of willingness to work with scientists, inexplicable”.

In a message delivered to The Weekend Australian, Kathleen said: “I am saddened and extremely disappointed that there is no response at the 12-month mark from Mr Speakman in relation to the pardon petition and the overwhelming supporting scientific and medical evidence … I am an innocent woman, and a mother who has lost her family under heartbreaking circumstances, still sitting in a maximum-security prison after nearly 19 long and challenging years.”

Read Quentin’s compelling article here.  

On Friday, the Australian Academy of Science released a letter it had sent to the NSW Attorney-General stating: “The new indisputable genetic evidence establishes Ms Folbigg’s innocence beyond reasonable doubt.”

“The options before you are simple: respect the scientific and medical evidence that provide ample justification of the pardon of Ms Folbigg and demonstrate that you take seriously your responsibility to provide justice to the people of NSW or deny justice by denying science and place under a cloud the integrity of the NSW justice system,” says the letter, which is co-signed by the academy’s outgoing president, John Shine, and four other professors. 

Kathleen’s legal team has asked NSW State Coroner Teresa O’Sullivan to hold a coronial inquest into the deaths of all four children.

Childhood friend Tracy Chapman hopes a coronial inquest will help set the record straight.

“Kath’s told me nobody appears to be listening to any of the scientists, the linguists, the medical and mental health experts …,” Tracy told the ABC.

“This is just devastating and astonishing. That the experts who have looked deeply at this case can be ignored should scare us all.”

Kathleen wants a coronial inquest to give her children the epitaph they deserved and wants to help others.

“The most important thing to Kath right now is that the cutting-edge science that proves her innocence will help other families deal with similar genetic anomalies, to avoid heartbreaking catastrophes,” Tracy said.

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