One pathologist was able to complete the autopsies on nine bodies in under four hours at the Forensic Science Centre on Monday, according to a statement from the National Security Ministry.
The statement was issued in response to media reports which stated that there was a delay in the completion of autopsies of murder victims for several hours which added to the emotional trauma of relatives.
National Security Minister Edmund Dillon read a similar statement in the Senate yesterday.
According to the release, the pathologist rostered for duty, Dr Eslyn McDonald-Burris, notified the FSC that she was ill around 10 am and arrangements were made to schedule Dr Hughvon DesVignes to work.
DesVignes, who was in Tobago, was contacted and travelled to Trinidad.
"FSC personnel advised the T&T Police Service (TTPS) personnel present that autopsies would be conducted from approximately 12 noon and apologised in advance for the delay. In the interim, relatives of the deceased were interviewed and the necessary paperwork and preliminary procedures were completed by FSC personnel and TTPS officers," the release stated.
It disclosed that post mortem examinations were done on nine bodies and were completed by 3.45 p.m. The release added that all bodies were released to relatives of the deceased by 4 pm.
However, sources at the FSC said yesterday that the autopsies were concluded "well later than 4 pm. After 6 pm, minutes to 7 pm."
There are three pathologists assigned to the FSC–Des Vignes, Mc Donald-Burris and Dr Valery Alexandrov.
Alexandrov is currently on vacation leave.
"The three pathologists interchange on a weekly basis, meaning that Des Vignes will be on duty for one week, then McDonald-Burris for the next week and then Alexandrov for the other week," the source said.
One relative of a murder victim, who had to wait for hours on Monday, said yesterday that he left the FSC at about 3.30 pm on Monday and left several families waiting.
On Monday, relatives of murder victims expressed disgust over the delay to get autopsies started. They were told to get there for 8 am.
Some of them arrived at the centre from as early 6 am.
They also complained about a stench at the FSC which was blamed on a malfunctioning freezer.