Pending autopsies that caused the backlog and deeper frustration among family members at the Forensic Science Centre has ended.
Guardian Media was told that the forensic pathologist together with additional attendants assigned yesterday worked up until after 6 pm to ensure that the bodies were released to the respective families.
Acting Minister of National Security Fitzgerald Hinds also confirmed to the Guardian Media that “the situation is better than normal because there are more mortuary attendants out working in support of the pathologist who are working on our behalf examining cadavers, trying to determine the cause of death, trying to do this as quickly as possible so that families can bury their loved ones.”
He added that at the very important unit the Forensic Science Center department of pathology there was a problem. He said that three of the mortuary attendants, the persons who are paid by U.S. taxpayers and who are employed there to support the work of the pathologist, did not show up for work for this week.
“It is my understanding that there was some administrative problem on the last pay round, the last month end, and as a result they did not receive their salaries and the way they chose to say thanks to mother Trinidad and Tobago, thanks to the Forensic Science Center for giving them the job that no doubt they would have applied for and even prayed for was to stay away from work yesterday so that the pathologists would not have been able to carry out their work, “ Hinds said.
“That resulted in a bit of a problem so the leadership at the Forensic Science Center called out more persons and more persons came out today and I’m happy to let you know that the work of the center is going on a pace today and there is no further problem, “ he added.
Honda disclosed that the Ministry made arrangements and their money have since been paid.
Asked whether or not any action would be taken, Hinds said “that is not a matter for me as a Minister of government, that is a matter for the permanent secretary in the Ministry of National Security and the leadership at the forensic science center, and I don’t think anything will be possible from what I heard they reported that persons are entitled to sick leave and it was just coincidental that all three of them took sick leave on the same day.”
Guardian Media was told that after long hours of waiting from 8 am to 5 pm, some expressed deeper frustration and sheer disappointment.
Speaking with the Guardian Media one relative who wished not to be identified said no respect exists at the FSC, “We are like animals here waiting for days and hours...its frustration. Our family get murdered now we can’t even get the body to bury them...what really going on in this place. Nobody respect our time and the fact that we have our lives to live after this.”
Even a homicide detective, who could not be named, complained about the inefficiencies. “This sort of delay...go slow or not go at all trickles down to us because it is keeping us back in our investigations which also means arresting suspects and bringing closure to families. This is nonsense and I hope some kind of resolution happens sooner than soon,” he said.
According to family membersm since Monday they were being turned away and the excuse given us that workers are on strike action over non payment of salaries and other salary issues.
Guardian Mediam howeverm understands that three weeks ago operations were said to be on a go-slow. This week operations actually came to a halt.
This is the second time for the year where a backlog occurred at the FSC.
In March, there was also a backlog of cases as there was no forensic pathologist available to report for duty.
No autopsies were being conducted due to alleged contractual issues.
Minister of National Security Stuart Young said then that he was only apprised of the situation when it was highlighted in the media and moved to immediately sign a document for a pathologist to be hired immediately.
Reporter: Rhondor Dowlat-Rostant