Police, S.R.O.S. silent over drug testing dispute

The Scientific Research Organisation of Samoa (S.R.O.S.) and the Police have remained tightlipped over reports about a dispute between the two organisations in relation to the testing done on tablets alleged to have been heroin.

S.R.O.S. Chief Executive Officer, Dr. Seuseu Joseph Tauati, said he could not discuss the matter because tests remain confidential and can only be disclosed to the client.

Asked for a comment, Police Commissioner, Fuiavailiili Egon Keil, declined.

"That case has gone through the judicial system and I prefer not to comment anymore on it," he said, referring the matter to the Attorney General’s Office.

The Attorney General, Lemalu Hermann Retzlaff, did not respond to queries sent to him through email.

The discovery of the tablets at the Faleolo International Airport led to a Vietnamese woman being charged for bringing illegal drugs into the country.

At the time, the Police had alleged that the street value of drugs was around $400,000.

But an inside source told the Samoa Observer during an interview that the tablets were submitted for testing at S.R.O.S. and the tests immediately came back negative.

The Police, however, were not convinced.

They insisted that the tablets were heroin and therefore sent the tablets to another lab overseas for testing, costing more money.

In the end, the test results returned negative, just as S.R.O.S. had found.

The source said this sparked friction between the Police and S.R.O.S.

All this was happening while Vietnamese woman, An Tran Thi, was charged with two counts of possession of narcotics namely heroin and racemethorphan, two counts of bribery and one count of importation of narcotics.

The drug charges were later withdrawn in December by the Attorney General’s Office in the Supreme Court leaving only the bribery charges against the Vietnamese national. She then vacated her not guilty plea to guilty to the bribery charges that has now been referred to the District Court.

Dr. Seuseu refused to confirm or deny the reports saying they are bound by client confidentiality.

“It is not because they are the Police,” he said. “We are a service provider and whatever comes in and whatever the person brings in we return the results to that client.

 “It is standard process and we maintain and meet international standards of client confidentiality.”

Dr. Seuseu added that regardless of what samples S.R.O.S. receives from the general public or Government ministries, the results always remain confidential.

Ms. Thi who has been living in a hotel at Matautu since she was charged in July last year maintained the tablets that were in her possession were herbal medicine.

The 24-year-old woman was travelling from Singapore to American Samoa via Fiji and Samoan when she was detained at the airport.


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