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Doctors indicted in Detroit-area genital mutilation case

FBI agents leave the office of Dr. Fakhruddin Attar at the Burhani Clinic in Livonia, Mich. Friday, April 21, 2017, after completing a search for documents. The investigation is connected to the case of Dr. Jumana Nagarwala, of Northville, charged with performing genital mutilation on two young girls from Minnesota. (Clarence Tabb Jr. /Detroit News via AP)

DETROIT (AP) — A grand jury indicted two doctors and a third person on Wednesday in an alleged scheme to perform genital mutilation on two girls from Minnesota at a Detroit-area clinic.

Dr. Jumana Nagarwala, Dr. Fakhruddin Attar and Attar’s wife, Farida, are charged with female genital mutilation, conspiracy and other crimes.

The federal indictment alleges the trio tried to obstruct the investigation by telling other people to make false statement to authorities. The doctors are also accused of lying to investigators.

Genital mutilation, also known as female circumcision or cutting, has been condemned by the United Nations and outlawed in the United States. But the practice is common for girls in parts of Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

“This brutal practice is conducted on girls for one reason: to control them as women. FGM will not be tolerated in the United States,” said Dan Lemisch, the acting U.S. attorney in Detroit.

Nagarwala is charged with performing genital mutilation on the two 7-year-old girls in February at a suburban Detroit clinic owned by Dr. Attar.

Nagarwala’s attorney, Shannon Smith, denied the allegation last week, saying the doctor was performing a religious custom that didn’t involve cutting. Smith declined to comment on the indictment, which replaces criminal complaints that led to the arrest of the three suspects earlier this month.

The Attars have been in custody since last week. They were due in court Wednesday for a bond hearing, but the hearing was rescheduled for May 3.

Outside the courthouse, defense attorney Mary Chartier said Dr. Attar was not in the examination room with Nagarwala and the girls.

“What happened at the clinic was not FGM. … I believe they are being persecuted for their religious beliefs, and I do not make that allegation lightly,” Chartier said.

Farida Attar’s attorney, Matt Newburg, declined to comment.

The Attars, Nagarwala and the Minnesota girls’ families belong to a Muslim sect called Dawoodi Bohra, which is concentrated in India.

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