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Inquest into death of NZ man killed in Samoa prison postponed again

Hans Dalton [News Hub file photo]

A family whose son was killed in a Samoan prison has had a chance for closure snatched away at the last second.

A coroner's inquest into the death of 28-year-old Hans Dalton was set to begin today.

The formal inquest has been postponed several times over the past five years, and today was no different.

His family's lawyer Olinda Woodroffe says they've lost faith in the justice system.

"The family has no trust or confidence in this current Coroner because of the way this whole thing has been conducted for the last five years," she says.

The investigation into Hans Dalton's death in Tafa'igata Prison has been riddled with issues since he was found head down in a large drum half full of water on Boxing Day in 2012.

Samoan police initially ruled Mr Dalton took his own life, but these claims were disproven when a 22-year-old was charged with his murder.

Prisoner Jonathan Crichton was put on trial in 2014 but was found not guilty, and no one has been held responsible since.

The latest coroner's inquest was set down for three days in Auckland. Coroner Paul Ryan made the call to postpone the inquest last week due to a lack of information.

Ms Woodroffe is now applying for a new coroner to take over the case.

"The Coroner was dependent on us to try to get information which he says he could not get from Samoa," she says.

"I haven't got any evidence of how many requests the Coroner made to Samoa.

"There's no finality for the family. Surely any human being who has suffered the sudden death of a loved one would like finality."

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