Three autopsies completed, six more to go says Police


As of Sunday, three autopsies have been completed by a Fijian pathologist that arrived on Friday in Samoa. 

The autopsies conducted included the female cop who was allegedly shot by her boyfriend; Kolani Lam a prisoner who died of alleged self-infliction and Aotearoa Pesamino Mayer, TV3 Manager who was found dead at her residence in Ululoloa.

Police Commissioner Auapa’au Logoitino says the pathologist’s reports have yet to be completed and will be submitted to the Coroner and the police upon completion. Police Commissioner says seven more autopsies will be conducted throughout this week. 

Last month Coroner, District Court Judge Alalatoa Rosella Papalii ordered the Ombudsman to conduct an investigation into the death of a convicted murderer, Kolani Lam who died at the Tanumalala prison this week.  

Her honours cited the “possibility of negligence” by the Ministry of Police and Prisons. 

This was confirmed in an interim order addressed to the Commissioner of Police Auapa’au Logoitino Filipo, Director General of Health, Aiono Dr Alec Ekeroma and Office of the Ombudsman dated 10 February 2023. 

Lam, who remains innocent, was found guilty in December 2019 over the murder of his wife Justina Sau’s.

Radio Polynesia obtained the order.

Judge pointed out that the death of Mr Lam was reported to her on 9 February 2023.

Her honours pointed out that the background to Police involvement and reporting of the death has yet to be heard in evidence in full and that is reserved for the inquest hearing set on 12 July, 2023. 

“What is clear, is the deceased was rushed by Tanumalal prison officials to the Leulumoega hospital on Tuesday 7 February 2023 on suspicion of ingestion of paraquat. “He was released the same day but later admitted to the TTM hospital at Motootua where it was observed that his condition had worsened. “He was pronounced dead at TTM hospital in the early hours of 8 February 2023. “ 

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 paramount and 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.” 

According to the orders having perused and considering all documents and information available and primary issues of immediate concern relating to the circumstances surrounding the death of Lam, her honours made the following orders. 

A postmortem is to be performed and the pathologist is to submit the autopsy report upon completion; the body can only be released after the postmortem; the family may view the body under the strict supervision of the Police, but they are prohibited from touching the body. 

“In light of the important issues outlined above, I have decided as a matter of public interest to invoke the Coroners statutory functions under s10(h) and s31(3) of the Coroners Act 2017 and hereby formally refer this case to the Office of the Ombudsman to investigate the issues identified and any other matters their office may deem fit to consider within its legal justification.

“A copy of the Ombudsman report on its investigation must be submitted to the Coroner to assist with preventative and educational recommendations the Coroner intends to make at the conclusion of the inquest hearing.” 

Judge Papalii also ordered the Ministry of Police and Prisons that all the prisons in Samoa “ceased” the purchasing of paraquat and other poisonous chemicals for usage in any prison facility. 

“All prison authorities are to ensure that supervision for all prisoners activities must be enforced forthwith at all prison facilities in Samoa.” 

Her honours also expressed sincere condolences to the family of the deceased especially his grieving children for his untimely and sudden death.