The Inquest into the death of Ioane Ipiniu, better known as “Jeanine Tuivaiki,” started in the District Court yesterday. Coroner and Judge Vaepule Vaemoa Va’ai is presiding.
Dr. Agape Amituanai, who examined the body of Mr. Ipiniu upon his arrival at the hospital, took the stand to tender her report. In doing so, she recalled that on 17 June 2016, the deceased man was brought in by Police officers around 4.45am.
“The gentleman was dead upon arrival,” said Dr. Amituana’i.
“There was no (medical) history of the diseased at the hospital records (section) and there were no relatives by the time of examination.”
The doctor told of bruising on his upper lip.
“There was no fracture to the neck,” she pointed out. “The cause of death is asphyxiation by hanging and I’m satisfied with the cause of death but I was not able to rule out whether the cause is by suicide or otherwise.”
The doctor added that the deceased was brought in with a rope around his neck.
“There were no open wounds or cuts just a rope around his neck.”
One of the lawyers in the matter, Muriel Lui, questioned the doctor as to why she concluded in her report the cause of death could either be suicide or homicide.
According to Dr. Amituana’i she was not given a medical history of the deceased man.
“The bruising (on the lip) can happen few minutes before death and it can happen after depending on the timing,” she said. “It could have happened before or after his blood had frozen.”
Next to give evidence was the father of the deceased, Ipiniu Ioane.
According to his affidavit, the father said his son is the eldest of six children.
“It’s been two years since he has lived with his friend at Taufusi,” he said. “He usually visits us (at Tapatapao) where my wife and his siblings live. The last time he visited was on Friday when he came to pick up flowers for bouquets.”
The father told the Court that what had happened to his son was hard to accept.
“It’s not easy what happened to my son because he has left us unexpectedly and he is still young. We will not forget what happened to him. We miss Ioane because he is the eldest of the six children and we depended on him.”
The father was asked by Ms. Lui to explain what he means by what happened to his son.
In response, Mr. Ioane said he was informed by Police about his son and he went straight to the hospital where he saw him at the morgue.
“I saw that he had an open wound to his right eye and his left eye was swollen,” said the father.
“His upper lip was cut, swollen and his chest also had bruises. When I saw that it appeared that he was beaten up by someone.”
The father said he then went to the Police and asked them if they are investigating what had happened to his son.
At this point, the Coroner told the father that his evidence contradicts with the evidence of the medical report tendered by a doctor.
“An x-ray was done in hospital and no bones were affected,” Judge Vaepule said.
“Your evidence contradicts the x-ray from the hospital and that is what I’m saying there were injuries to the eye but the bone was not broken.”
The Coroner added that there was an injury to the right eye of the deceased and one to his upper lip. The father continued to say that his son also had marks from a rope around his neck.
Asked by the Prosecutor if he was aware of the autopsy, the father replied yes.
“Please excuse me but his body was cooked from the ice,” said Mr. Ioane.
“His skin was starting to peel and he has been lying (in the morgue) for too long. His body looked different.”
The Coroner asked the father that his response sounds like he was not happy if not - mad with the condition of his son’s body.
“So is it your will that he should not have been taken to the morgue?” asked Judge Vaepule.
Mr. Ioane said his son’s post mortem should have been done earlier.
“I wanted the investigation of what happened to him to be done to determine whether he was beaten up by someone or not.”
But Judge Vaepule reminded the father that such cannot be done if the body was already buried.
“If you were unhappy with the delay in autopsy the investigation can only be done when the government brings over a specialist doctor to do it,” said the Coroner.
However, he also expressed sympathy to the father for the delay of his son’s burial due to the autopsy.
Lastly he assured that the case cannot be closed until the Pathologist report is tendered in Court.
The matter has been adjourned until 10 August, 2016.