Chief pathologist on Evara’s autopsy result

Two main limiting factors distort evidence when conducting an autopsy. These are embalming and decomposition.

Chief pathologist, Dr. Seth Fose, made the statement following recent criticism over the autopsy outcome of late veteran journalist, Rosalyn Albaniel Evara.

Despite widespread public belief that gender-based violence was the main contributor to Evara’s passing, preliminary autopsy reports proved otherwise.

“Embalming and decomposition distort evidence of injuries, trauma and disease processes both externally and internally,” explains Dr Fose.

The chief pathologist further clarifies that:

  1. Embalming alters the colour and consistency of the body tissues and organs, sometimes making it difficult to differentiate injury or disease;
  2. Embalming incisions and puncture wounds may be mistaken for incised and stab wounds. Skin bruises may be due to force of embalming fluid and perfusion of fixative. During embalming, many chemicals are introduced to the body, hence if later toxicology analysis of internal organs conducted could give incorrect or false results;
  3. In other jurisdiction, embalming prior to coroner’s autopsy may invite or attract charge of destruction of evidence under the criminal code or evidence act

“Therefore embalming should not be done prior to coroner’s autopsy.”

As was with the late journalist’s case, Evara was embalmed before the post mortem on Oct 25, where preliminary findings had resulted in an unfavourable outcome. This led to Dr Fose’s credibility being questioned. 

Dr Fose further clarifies that he is the first Papua New Guinean medical doctor who is also a lawyer.

“I hold degrees in both noble professions,” he says.

“I am admitted to the legal bar at the National Court of Justice to practice as a lawyer also.

“These credentials are recognised and accepted by the PNG Medical Board and as such, allow me to practice and give evidence in court as a medical witness expert.

“I have experience, skills and knowledge.”

(File picture of the late Rosalyn Albaniel Evara’s funeral)

Imelda Wavik