24 Feb 2021

Samoa judge highlights need for pathologist

10:54 am on 24 February 2021

A Supreme Court judge in Samoa has urged the government to address the lack of a pathologist to perform autopsies on bodies at the country's mortuaries.

Tupua Tamasese Meaole Hospital

Tupua Tamasese Meaole Hospital Photo: facebook

The Samoa Observer newspaper reported Justice Vui Clarence Nelson made the call during the sentencing of a father for the manslaughter of his 14-year-old son last year.

The deceased is one of 17 bodies awaiting autopsies at Tupua Tamasese Meaole Hospital on Upolu Island along with four others at the Savai'i Island mortuary.

Last week it was revealed the bodies were still awaiting post-mortem procedures, with some having been in the mortuaries for more than a year.

Justice Vui said this was a matter that needed to be brought to the attention of the Health Ministry.

Samoa's acting Chief Justice, Vui Clarence Nelson

Justice Vui Clarence Nelson Photo: SPC

"It appears there was no post mortem conducted on the deceased despite the coroner ordering one in November 2020, three-and-a-half months ago," he said.

"While a reasonable delay is understandable in these times of Covid pandemic, a three-and-a-half months or longer delay is not.

"The court sympathises with the family of this young boy and other families who have been unable to lay their loved ones to rest."

Justice Vui then referred the file on the 14-year-old's death back to the Coroner's Court to investigate the circumstances surrounding his death.

Attorney-General Savalenoa, Maeva Betham-Annandale, said her office was working closely with police and health ministries to make arrangements for the post mortems required.