Dead babies await Coronial Inquest

The bodies of eight babies who have died from measles cannot be released for burial until a Coroner gives the clearance.

The family of one of the deceased babies is desperate to bury their loved one that they have asked Prime Minister Tuilaepa Dr. Sa’ilele Malielegaoi to intervene.

The family declined to have their name published fearing repercussions.

But a woman, who identified herself as the grandmother, said the decision to hold back the body doesn’t make sense. She is hoping the Prime Minister can help them.

“This is outrageous and unbelievable,” she said. “Our baby died of measles and yet they want to open up my baby, it is heartbreaking to even think that our baby will have to go under the knife. We are hurting and this is not helping.”

It was not possible to get a comment from Prime Minister Tuilaepa.

But the Commissioner of Police, Fuiavaili’ili Egon Keil, told the Samoa Observer there is not much they can do.

While he "feels" for the families, the Commissioner said the Police do not have a choice and it is an "unfortunate" situation.

“And we want the families to bury their babies, this is the last thing they need right now, but we cannot release the bodies until the process is complete.”

He said the request for a coronial inquest was made by doctors and it is the Police’s responsibility to do the paperwork and submit it to the Court for the Coroner, who is a Judge, to sign off.

The Commissioner said the majority of the cases were declared earlier as measles-related.

Asked when the autopsy of the bodies are likely to be done, the Commissioner was unsure.

 “We are not sure at the moment when the forensic pathologist will arrive in the country.

 “And when the pathologist actually conducts the autopsy, they will render their opinion on how this person died. It is not up to the Police. In the meantime, we cannot just release the body in the middle of the process.”

The Commissioner added that doctors requested a coronial inquest “when they have a question as to the cause of death.”

He reminded the grieving families that an inquest is not up to the Police but rather the law.

The Commissioner also confirmed that five police officers have lost children to the epidemic.

“We feel what the community is feeling but there’s laws that the police have to follow and while it is unfortunate but that is the law.”

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