3 May 2005

A week at least before body sent to Fiji from Iraq is formally identified

6:58 pm on 3 May 2005

A security recruitment agency in Fiji, Global Risk Strategies, says it will be at least a week before the DNA sampling of the charred remains of a body killed in Iraq and sent to Fiji, can be identified.

Aisea Atalifo and Timoci Lalaqila were among 11 others who died on the 22nd of April when the helicopter they'd been travelling in was shot down in a missile attack north of Baghdad.

Two bodies arrived in Fiji at the weekend for burial, but the US embassy in Kuwait believes that an American's body had mistakenly been sent to Fiji.

A forensic expert leaves Fiji today, with DNA samples of what was thought to have been Aisea Atalifo's body, for analysis in the US.

Lt Col Sakiusa Raivoce of Global Risk welcomes the move but says the delay is unfortunate for Mr Atalifo's family.

"I think the Americans were unable to identify one of them, the Americans, through DNA test. So that's why they want to do the test here in Fiji to confirm whether he is Fijian or otherwise."

Lt Col Sakiusa Raivoce says the funeral for Timoci Lalaqila will take place on Friday.