Coroner’s inquiry into death of Kolani Lam starts today


The Coroner’s Inquiry into the death of Kolani Lam a prisoner is set to start Today in the District Court before her honors Alalatoa Rosella Papalii. In February this year, Papalii ordered the Ombudsman to investigate the death of a convicted murderer, Kolani, at the Tanumalala prison.

Her honours cited the “possibility of negligence” by the Ministry of Police and Prisons. Lam, who remains innocent, was found guilty in December 2019 over the murder of his wife, Justina Sau.

Radio Polynesia obtained the order.

Judge Papalii stated that in the wake of this incident and upon reading the documents, Police Homicidal Division submitted for the Coroner’s consideration, a number of key concerns have arisen that her honours “simply cannot brush aside as I am of the respectful view these must be addressed and thoroughly investigated by an independent body. 

“The possibility of omission and negligence on the part of the prisons authorities at Tanumalala in not providing proper supervision to prisoners working unsupervised on the open fields/plantation. 

“Possibility of failure of prison authorities at Tanumalala to exercise reasonable care and attention to prevent those in custody, such as the deceased, from hurting himself, whether through the intentional actions of others or his carelessness of self-infliction. 

“How paraquat came to be available at a prison facility where health and safety for prisoners and all concerned should be a top priority.

“The propriety of issuing a permit by the Ministry of Agriculture to the three prison facilities, namely Tanumalala, Vaiaata and Oloamanu in light of the high risks involved to the health and safety of prisoners and ultimately their lives.” The death of Lam led to the order banning paraquat from all prison facilities.