Cairo/Sydney, Oct 28 (efe-epa).- Qatar said Thursday that it will investigate claims that a number of women on at least 10 flights were subjected to invasive internal examinations at Doha’s Hamad International Airport early this month after a baby was found in a rubbish bin in a terminal bathroom.
Prime Minister Sheikh Khalid bin Khalifa bin Abdul Aziz al-Thani has ordered “a comprehensive, transparent investigation into the incident,” the Qatari government said in a statement Wednesday.
“This was the first instance of an abandoned infant being discovered in such a condition at HIA – this egregious and life-threatening violation of the law triggered an immediate search for the parents, including on flights in the vicinity of where the newborn was found,” it said.
“While the aim of the urgently-decided search was to prevent the perpetrators of the horrible crime from escaping, the State of Qatar regrets any distress or infringement on the personal freedoms of any traveler caused by this action,” the government added, without further reference to the alleged examinations performed on female passengers.
The statement said that the baby girl, who had been concealed in a plastic bag under garbage, was now safe and receiving medical care after “what appeared to be a shocking and appalling attempt to kill her.”
Among the affected passengers were women traveling to Australia as their plane made a stopover in Doha on Oct. 2. The women were allegedly forced to remove their underwear to undergo internal examinations without consent and without being told why.
One woman told national broadcaster ABC that she had been taken to ambulances with a group of about six women for an exam.
In an appearance before a Senate hearing Wednesday, Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said that 18 Australian passengers from “10 aircraft” were allegedly subjected to the examinations.
The minister did not specify the total number of affected women, nor did she mention the other nationalities involved or the final destination of their flights.
Earlier this week, she said her country’s government “dealt directly with Qatari authorities” about the “disturbing, offensive and worrying” incident, which has strained relations between the two countries.
The Australian government is awaiting a Qatari report into the actions. EFE-EPA