DETROIT (WJBK) - A grand jury has indicted two doctors and a third person in an alleged scheme to perform genital mutilation on two girls from Minnesota at a Detroit-area clinic.
The indictment filed Wednesday replaces criminal complaints that led to the arrest of the three in recent weeks.
Doctors Jumana Nagarwala and Fakhruddin Attar, and Attar's wife, Farida, are charged with female genital mutilation and conspiracy. The doctors are also charged with making false statements to investigators and trying to obstruct the investigation.
FOX 2 was in the courtroom on Wednesday. Afterwards, family members would not comment on what happened in federal court. Doctor Attar's attorney says her client may have let Nargarwala use his facility after business hours, but claims he had no knowledge of what was really going on.
"He was never in the examination room, no he was not," Attar's attorney Mary Chartier said. "He was not aware of any crimes that occured in his clinic. The indictment came down today, it actually came down on our way to court which is why the detention hearing was moved until next Wednesday for me to discuss the matter with Doctor Attar and give us an opportunity to better defend him."
Nagarwala is accused of performing genital mutilation on a pair of 7-year-old Minnesota girls at a clinic owned by Dr. Attar. Nagarwala's attorney denied the charge last week and said she was performing a religious custom.
"The Feds say a lot of things and they're going to have to make their case in court," Chartier said. "I believe they are being persecuted for their religious beliefs and I do not make that allegation lightly."
Authorities say Dr. Attar owned Burhani Medical Clinic in Livonia, which is where a Detroit emergency room doctor who was arrested last week is accused of performing FGM on minor girls. Authorities say Dr. Attar's wife is employed at Burhani Medical Clinic as an office manager. Authorities believe the husband and wife arranged and assisted in the FGM procedures performed by the Detroit doctor, Dr. Jumana Nagarwala.
Authorities say Dr. Nagarwala never worked at Burhani Medical Clinic, therefore the office has no record of her billing for medical procedures there. Nargawala was arrested in Detroit on April 12. Authorities claim that the Attars allowed Nagarwala to perform the operations when the office was closed.
The FGM investigation at Burhani Medical Clinic has identified two young girls from Minnesota who have been operated on by Dr. Nagarwala. Other minor girls in Michigan may have undergone procedures as well.
Investigators say they have video evidence of Dr. Nagarwala meeting patients at Dr. Attar's Livonia clinic. They also tapped Nagarwala's phone and say they recorded a conversation in which attar's wife is allegedly heard telling patients not to talk to police and deny any procedure was done.
The Attars are both in federal custody and will have a bond hearing next week.
Members of a particular religious and cultural community are known to practice FGM on young girls as part of their beliefs and cultural practice to suppress sexuality. Dr. Nagarwala's defense team has denied the accusations against her and calls it 'religious removal.'
The defense argued, claiming no female genital mutilation took place, instead, a religious removal of a mucus membrane from the genitals which was wrapped up and given to the parents to bury -- a practice they say is performed by a small sect of Indian-based Islam called Dawoodi Bohra.