Inquest into toddlers’ deaths adjourned

By Deidre Tautua-Fanene ,

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District Court Judge, Fepuleai Ameperosa Roma.

District Court Judge, Fepuleai Ameperosa Roma. (Photo: Samoa Observer)

The inquest into the death of two babies in Savai’i following their vaccination in July this year has been adjourned to October 3. 

The adjournment will allow District Court Judge, Fepuleai Ameperosa Roma, to consider submissions by the prosecution and defense lawyers, before making a decision on whether he should adjourn the inquest until criminal proceedings against two nurses in the Supreme Court is completed.

Senior sergeant Richard Ah Chong, representing the prosecution when the inquest convened last week, made an application at the hearing for the inquest to be called together with the two nurses’ criminal matter as they are related and concern the death of the two babies.

But Muriel Lui, counsel for the defense, argued that the criminal matter is not dependent on the inquest and the parents of the deceased had an interest in the handling of this matter early.

“I don’t understand the reason why this matter should be transferred to be heard together with the criminal matter because they are two separate matters in two separate courts.

“And in any case we are not sure what the nurses are charged with and the findings there are not dependent on this hearing,” she said.

The argument by Ms Lui compelled Judge Fepuleai to alert her to the Coroner’s Act 2017 Section 30, which he said is clear when it came to such matters.

“Coroner’s Act 2017 Section 30 states and that is very clear that when there are criminal charges arising out under circumstances, in the death of the two deceased the coroner will have to postpone the coronial inquiry until the criminal proceedings are concluded,” said the judge.

However, Ms Lui in response submitted that she studied that particular section of the law and is of the view that the inquest should not be dependent on the criminal proceedings and the coroner should proceed.

Judge Fepuleai then ordered the defense counsel and the prosecution to submit their memorandums to support their arguments and adjourned the hearing to October 3 for decision.

© Samoa Observer 2016

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