An acrimonious argument has started between Greece’s coroners association and the Samos Hospital administration over autopsies and issuing of death certificate procedures.
Dead bodies of refugees, with those of children among them, pile up at the mortuary of the Samos public hospital and stay there for days before a doctor confirms a death or orders an autopsy.
The Hellenic Society of Forensic Medicine has complained that the Samos hospital doctors, after orders from the administration, issue death certificates in a manner that is absolutely arbitrary and illegal.
According to the coroners association, general physicians and pediatricians (in case the dead are children) issue death certificates with the same cause of death in all of them: ‘drowning in the sea’, without performing an autopsy first. In cases the relatives refuse to accept the death certificate, the doctors write an order for an autopsy to be performed by the hospital surgeons.
However, according to the law, in cases of death at sea a forensic examination is mandatory, because death at sea is considered a violent death, thereby an autopsy is obligatory.
After the complaint of the coroners association, the hospital administration replied that the issuing of death certificates without an autopsy is legal, since the relatives of the dead are against the autopsy process because it is prohibited by their religion.
Furthermore the hospital administration claimed that there is no forensic service on the island and as a result autopsies are performed by the hospital surgeons, and their scientific skills and legal credibility have never been doubted.