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AG: Investigation into recent electrocution deaths is ongoing

Attorney General Talauega Eleasalo Ale. [SN file photo]
OSHA still investigating too

Attorney General Talauega Eleasalo Ale says the police investigation into the deaths of the three men, due to an industrial electrocution incident at the Manu’a’s Store compound at the Tafuna Industrial Park, is ongoing.

The tragic incident, which occurred last month, claimed the lives of U.S. Army Reservist Toese Ume of Futiga, Iosefa Peato Elia of Aua, and Saito Paulo of Faga’itua. Department of Public Safety launched an investigation immediately after the incident.

During Talauega’s confirmation hearing for the post of Attorney General, by the Senate Government Operations Committee on Wednesday, Sen. Tuaolo Manaia Fruean asked if any charges have been filed over the deaths of the three men at the Manu’a’s Store compound.

Talauega responded that the police investigation is not yet completed and it’s still ongoing and the Attorney General’s Office is looking into the incident as to whether ASG will be affected. (Samoa News notes that the industrial park compound is ASG-owned.)

Tuaolo recalled the time he was Police Commissioner a few years ago, when a similar incident occurred in Leone where a man’s life was lost. He said his office recommended charges under provisions of local law, but the Attorney General’s Office at the time declined.

(The provision is Criminally Negligent Homicide; and according to the local law, a person commits the crime of criminally negligent homicide if, with criminal negligence, he causes the death of another person. And this is a class D felony.)

Talauega responded that the criminal negligence issue is being reviewed by the AG’s Office, and again stressed that the police investigation is ongoing.

In his condolence message to the families of the three men, published last week in the Samoa News, Gov. Lolo Matalasi Moliga said he has “impressed on the Police Commissioner not to leave any stone unturned in conducting its investigation to produce accurate information necessary to evaluate the sufficiency and effectiveness of existing policies and procedures fostering deterrence of this type of event from ever happening again.”

Besides the local probe, the US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has opened a federal investigation into the incident.

USDOL’s San Francisco based spokesperson; Jose Carnevali told Samoa News yesterday that the OSHA investigation is ongoing with one inspector on island.

Asked for the specific areas on which the OSHA investigation is focusing, he said, “as with all fatality investigations, the focus is on whether any OSHA regulations had been violated and to prevent it from happening again.”

And because this is currently an open investigation, “we cannot provide any further information or details at this time.” he added.

In his condolence message, the governor said findings of the OSHA investigation would also be of great help to examine current policies and procedures, which regulate the issuance of licenses to crane operators and improving safety policies and standards for workers.