Mother pleads for release of son's body

The mother of a deceased 16-year-old boy in Savai'i who is alleged to have been harmed by a Church Minister is pleading with the Police to release her child's body so he can be laid to rest.

The deceased who has been identified as So’otaga Viliamu passed away on 29 February 2020. 

But the child’s body remains in a freezer at a morgue while awaiting a Pathologist’s inquiry. 

Police confirmed that they were following leads the boy had been deliberately harmed days after his death. 

“We are looking at a church minister being involved in this case,” the Police Commissioner,  Fuiavailiili Egon Keil, said at the time, while declining to elaborate on the possible role of the Minister. 

But his grief-stricken mother, Vagalena Viliamu, said her child had been sorely missed and all she wants is to lay him to rest next to his grandfather at their family home in Safotu.

Mrs. Viliamu said that a few days after he died in the Moto’otua Hospital, as their family was preparing to take him to Tuasivi morgue to be closer to home, they were notified that they were not allowed to do so anymore as there is now a case with Police.

That was two months ago.

Mrs. Viliamu said she personally does not care about Police investigations at this point, but instead to take her baby home: “This has taken so long already.”

“We still haven’t heard anything updated about the investigation and we are planning to go to the Police Commissioner to put through our request, but if that fails we will go straight to the Prime Minister as a last resort for assistance,” she said.

“My son had the same condition that also claimed his father's life and that’s leukaemia, his death certificate says this, so we do not know what more they have investigated.”

Mrs. Viliamu claims she has been told that the challenge is that someone filed a complaint alleging there was foul play but the family are not aware of whom it is.

There are other witnesses to the case, she has been told.

“We don’t understand who those people are and it is definitely not our family, all we want is to bury him quickly. Anything other than that, they can do it on their own,” she said. 

“My son has been in there for far too long, all I ask is for the chance to bring him home.”

In early March, Police Commissioner, Fuiavailiili Egon Keil, told the Samoa Observer that Police investigators are making inquiries into allegations that the child died as a result of foul play or having been deliberately harmed.

And despite Police hearing of an allegation that someone had sought to deliberately harm the child, an initial postmortem and the boy's death certificate did not suggest he died from anything other than natural causes.

But after apparently uncovering inconsistencies during the course of their investigations, Fuiavailiili confirmed that they are requesting a coroner’s inquest to have a forensic pathologist examine the body.

Two months on, this is yet to happen.

The Samoa Observer understands that it has been a challenge to fly over a pathologist to conduct the autopsy due to the global lockdowns as required to keep out the COVID-19 virus.

So'otaga was a twin to younger brother Taloto, and third of seven children altogether. He was also a Year 11 student at the Alofi-o-Taoa College in Fatuvalu, Savaii.

Comments have been sought from Police but no response was received as of press time.


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