Nurses sentence pending a year after babies' death

The sentencing of two nurses who pleaded guilty to the death of two babies after they were administered the Mumps, Measles and Rubella (M.M.R.) vaccine last year has been adjourned again. 

It has been a year now since one-year-olds Lannah Samuelu, of Sasina, and Lameko Siu, of Safotu, Savai’i died after receiving the M.M.R. vaccine on July 6 last year. 

Luse Emo Tauvale and Leutogi Teo appeared before Justice Vui Clarence Nelson on Friday for sentencing. 

Ms. Tauvale faces two charges of negligence in mixing the M.M.R. dose causing manslaughter to one-year-old Lannah Samuelu of Sasina and one-year-old Lameko Siu of Safotu, Savai’i. 

She is also charged for conspiring to defeat the cause of justice, in relation to an investigation into the death of the two infants at the Safotu District Court in Savai’i. 

On the other hand, Ms. Teo pleaded guilty to one charge of negligence causing manslaughter to the one-year-old infant boy from Sasina. 

They were represented by lawyer Tauiliili Harry Schuster. 

Prosecutor is Assistant Attorney General, Magele Leone Su’a. 

Justice Vui said the matter will be adjourned again as the defense lawyer is engaged in another matter involving overseas lawyers. 

He was referring to the case of former Cabinet Minister La’aulialemalietoa Leuatea Polataivao and others that he is also presiding over. 

The matter has been adjourned to August 2, 2019 for sentencing. 

Two weeks ago prosecution filed a memorandum indicating a “substantial change in position” to the nurses sentence. 

While prosecution had supported a non-custodial sentence submission made by defense lawyer, they later changed that position. 

Tauiliili was to file a response to the change of position from prosecution in terms of sentence. 

The babies died on July 6 last year after receiving the vaccination with the Ministry of Health immediately suspending the use of the vaccine pending an investigation. 

An investigation and inquiry was launched to look at the procedures used to administer the M.M.R. vaccination and alleged discrepancies relating to the death of the two infants. 

In April this year, the suspension on the M.M.R. was lifted when the health authorities declared the vaccine safe. 


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