Net widens in Samoa prison death probe
While a 21-year old inmate has been charged with the death of Hans Dalton, police officers at Tafa’igata Prison are also likely to face charges.
An internal investigation – conducted by the Professional Standards Unit - is underway at the prison following confirmation that mentally ill New Zealander, Hans Dalton, was allegedly murdered on Boxing Day.
Assistant Police Commissioner, Le’aupepe Fatu Pula told the Samoa Observer that “circumstances” and "intense media scrutiny in Samoa and overseas” drove the Police Commissioner to push for a further investigation after the initial findings where Mr. Dalton was thought to have committed suicide.
“That was the notion at the time; that it was an alleged suicide,” said Le’aupepe.
But new information has resulted in the investigation. Le’aupepe said “all police officers who were on duty from the time this man arrived at the prison up until his death are being investigated.”
Le’aupepe said charges would be laid where necessary.
Meanwhile, another investigation into the same death is underway in New Zealand. Mr. Dalton’s mother, Christine Bowker Wilson has been assured by a New Zealand coroner investigating the death that it would be “a very robust, in-depth enquiry.”
Amnesty International has also become involved, she said. When the Police said that her son had committed suicide, Mrs. Wilson did not accept it.
Asked for a comment following the latest development, she is still not convinced either.
“To be honest, I’m wondering if this is another ‘fob off’ by the police,” she told the Samoa Observer.
“This is only the start of the truth unraveling now, but we will keep working towards bringing the truth out. I still think it’s very suspicious, but the truth will manifest itself.”
Ms. Wilson said her son’s death has shown the Samoan police in a “bad light.”
“We have to work towards getting good officers,” she said. “For the sake of the Samoan people, they have to be put right because if things are not right at the roots, everybody suffers – including innocent people.”
Ms. Wilson said she was unaware of the state of mental health services in Samoa. She said if she could go back in time she would have done more to try and save her son.
“To have your son killed is terrible, especially when you have put them in the care of a hospital thinking that they’re really going to be looked after,” Ms. Wilson said. “Otherwise I would have airlifted him out, even if it was going to cost me a lot of money…if I had any inkling that the standard of care was not there, I would have airlifted him out.”
Ms. Wilson said she still has not been contacted by the Samoan Police to let her know that her son’s death is now being treated as a homicide.
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