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Pacific Islands Development Program, East-West Center

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Man Charged In New Zealander’s Death At Samoa Prison
New Zealander was being held at facility for mentally-ill

By Lanuola Tupufia

APIA, Samoa (Samoa Observer, Jan. 18, 2013) – Hans Dalton, a mentally-ill man from New Zealand who was found dead inside a gallon of water at Tafa’igata Prison in Samoa, did not commit suicide.

Contrary to earlier reports, the Police yesterday confirmed that a 21-year-old man has been charged with murder over Mr. Dalton’s death on Boxing Day.

The confirmation was given by Assistant Police Commissioner, Le’aupepe Fatu Pula during a press conference, yesterday.

Although he declined to reveal the identity of the accused, Le’aupepe said the man was in custody at the Tafa’igata Prison when the incident occurred.

"The male is alleged to have assaulted Hans Dalton, causing his death," said Le’aupepe. "The 21-year-old is charged with murder and will appear in the Supreme Court on 28th January."

Le’aupepe explained that Mr. Dalton was referred to the Police by the Mental Health Unit. Mr. Dalton was then transferred to the Tafa’igata Prison, where other mentally ill patients, are transferred.

"He became too violent downstairs (at Police Headquarter in Apia) and so he was taken to Tafaigata," said Le’aupepe. "The thing is the system in place is very poor."

Le’aupepe said since the story about Mr. Dalton surfaced, everyone have blamed the Police.

"The weight of the blame is on us but the issue is something that is for the Health Department."

Mr. Dalton, 38 years old, suffered from a "thought disorder" that required him to take medication.

When Cyclone Evan struck, he could not find his medication. A day later when he eventually found his medication, he became very uncomfortable.

So he was taken to Psychiatrist, Dr. Ian Parkin at the Mental Health Unit, Moto’otua.

Dr. Parkin claimed that Mr. Dalton couldn’t be detained at the Mental Health Unit – since he had smashed a glass window. So they had had to refer him to police.

It was not possible to obtain a comment from Mr. Dalton’s family yesterday.

During a previous interview, however, Mr. Dalton’s mother, Christine Bowker Wilson refused to believe that her son took his own life.

"I think it’s very dangerous to assume. I don’t know if it was another prisoner or one of the staff. I think at the back of it all is a lack of understanding of mental illness."

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