Forensic pathologist Dr Valery Alexandrov is calling on Government to intervene to deal with the shortage of manpower and space available at Forensic Science Centre, Federation Park, St James. In an interview at the centre on Thursday, Alexandrov said the centre needed to be larger while more pathologists and eight mortuary technicians were needed.
That would mean they could add shifts or keep the centre open on weekends, he said. It takes approximately an hour to do an autopsy. There are three pathologists and five mortuary attendants at the centre. Alexandrov said he did ten autopsies on Wednesday and did not have an opportunity to take a break.
When the T&T Guardian visited the centre, two babies lay among the bodies of several men on tables waiting for autopsies. Alexandrov said the room needed to be refurbished because the air was not circulating.
In another room, five bodies lay waiting. Skeleton parts in a box, chemicals, hoses and pieces of clothing lay on surrounding tables. Other small rooms were filled with filing cabinets and boxes and dilapidated furniture filled the narrow hallways. He said those problems were brought to the attention of the director of the centre.
“People don’t come here to work because of the conditions. I went to meetings which the minister (Justice Minister Christlyn Moore) attended but never got to speak with her,” he added. He said when the bodies arrived at the centre sometimes the investigating police officer was not around to give any details on the deaths.
“Some officers are just escorting the body. They are just machine-gun carriers. It is like we are in kindergarten,” he said. Alexandrov also said pathologists were doing more autopsies than they were supposed to. Last month, Justice Minister Christlyn Moore said things were “running smoothly” at the centre and no other assistance was necessary.
Ministry: No pile-up
In a statement yesterday the Ministry of Justice denied there had been a pile-up of bodies at the centre. The centre said it received 25 bodies between February 8 and 14. It said of the four received on February 8, three were autopsied the same day while the fourth was done on Wednesday. No bodies were received from February 9-12 because the centre was closed.
The ministry said of the 16 bodies received February 13, nine were autopsied on the same day and four were unidentified and could not be autopsied for this reason. It said on February 14 five bodies were received and six bodies were autopsied, three of which had been received the previous day.
The statement said yesterday one of the bodies received on Wednesday and two others received on Thursday were autopsied. The three remaining bodies would be autopsied after they were properly identified, the statement added.