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Social worker in Samoa calls for criminal charges in baby's death

Samoa social worker Sale Mikaele Kolio has called for criminal charges to be laid in relation to the death of baby Frank Wulf.

Baby Frank died last year at the Tupua Tamasese Meaole Hospital with Coroner Judge Vaepule V. Va’ai ruling that baby Frank’s death was “violent” and that the infant did not die of natural causes. Judge Va’ai’s inquest report was published in yesterday’s Samoa Observer. In reaction to this report Sale Mikaele Kolio, a social worker for the Catholic Church here in Samoa, says the medical staff directly involved should be held accountable for their actions and face a criminal hearing. Mr Kolio got involved when baby Frank’s grandfather approached him for support.

“Being the main support person of the family during and after the tragic incident which cost baby Frank’s life and almost cost his mother’s life, I would like the Justice system and the professional society of doctor’s and midwives to have an autonomous commission to investigate thoroughly who should be held accountable for the death of Frank and the near loss of his mother’s life,” he said.

“The Inquest sought by the Attorney General Tuatagaloa Aumua Ming Leung Wai only revolved around the question: what caused the death of baby Frank?

“All the hospital staff witnesses and their testimonies were not tested in any way for their authenticity. “Their explanations of the events leading up to the death of baby Frank and the near loss of the mother’s life were not in any way cross-examined and tested in regards to their validity.

“I therefore call upon the Minister of Justice, the Minister of Police, the Police Department and the Chief Justice to pursue a criminal hearing of this case and bring about justice by prosecuting those who have been directly involved in providing, what I perceive, in Ms Wulf’s case.”

When asked about this, the Attorney General said the issue was complicated and involved various proceedings “Civil proceedings – where the mother of the infant is suing the Government,” said Aumua.

“Disciplinary proceedings under the Healthcare Professions Registration and Standards Act 2007 – involving the Registrar of Healthcare Professionals. A Coronial inquiry has just completed, he said.

“At this stage, no criminal proceedings are being proposed.” He noted that Mr. Kilio said mediation has been recommended as a course of action for the Wulf family.

“The mediation you referred to is in relation to the civil proceedings,” Aumua said. “Upon the filing of a civil suit, the Court generally refers the matter to mediation or judicial settlement conferences.

“If the suit cannot be settled, then the matter is referred for hearing before the Court.”

However, Mr Kolio says that this is not enough. As a social worker who has worked with the medical industry in New Zealand for many years, he believes that nothing in this case was done properly.



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