Toledo Family Awaits Post-Mortem; Forensics Department Responds

Toledo Family Awaits Post-Mortem; Forensics Department Responds

Yesterday we told you of the family in Silver Creek Village, Toledo District who have been waiting for 11 days to lay their matriarch to rest.  Today, there is good news to report as personnel from the Forensics and the Police Departments have reached out to the family, and the post-mortem took place earlier today.  61-year-old Florentina Choco passed away on April 5, and since then the family has been getting the run-around in getting the body handed over to them.  Love News spoke with Choco’s son who confirmed that they are happy that they will be having the funeral service by the weekend. But the matter of public frustration with the speed of post-mortem examinations has been a recurring issue as of late. We spoke to the Executive Director of the National Forensic Science Service (NFSS) Gian Cho, who acknowledged that the process can be strenuous for families at times, so he urges them to give the service a call. 

Gian Cho, Executive Director, National Forensic Science Service: “We want the public to be aware if they have any questions about what forensic post mortem examinations involve we have informational brochures on our social media pages, they can always call the main office here 205-2164 that phone number is on our website as well as on our Facebook page if there are any doubts because we understand there are often times communication gaps where the investigating officers from police would not be in a position or would not be able or sometimes they don’t communicate as timely as the family would want in terms of when the post mortem examination would take place and that’s because it’s not the police that sets that schedule it’s actually forensics. They would recover such remains, send it to our holding facility, our storage unit here in Ladyville at the Forensic Lab and we have daily scheduling of autopsies for not only criminal cases or suspected criminal cases but anyone who passes away in an unexplained and sudden or accidental or a violent manner has to undergo a forensic autopsy unless there is a medical history but like I said if there is any question about injury, if there are signs of bruising, if the person fell down, even if we’re talking about elderly patients that may have passed away but if the police investigation suspects there might have been elder abuse or if there is some kind of violence involved or medical malpractice those cases must undergo a forensic autopsy.”

Cho went on to explain that forensic autopsies are a major part of the work of the NFSS, but the number of procedures has steadily been increasing.

Gian Cho, Executive Director, National Forensic Science Service: “It has been increasing over the past recent years. Overall in Belize the total count of death, and I know this is a morbid topic but for us it is important work that we do, the total deaths in Belize is about two thousand deaths per year. About twenty five percent of those deaths roughly are investigated by forensic medical examiners so about twenty five percent of that two thousand, sometimes more than twenty five percent undergo a forensic autopsy. There’s the clinical autopsy that the Ministry of Health or the Karl Heusner pathologist would do those are not forensic autopsies those are for cases where there’s no forensic interest, there’s no medico legal interest, those are just clinical procedures to understand either the pathology of the illness that led to the death or to determine more accurately what the diagnosis would be so that’s a separate type of autopsies. The ones we’re talking about the police investigation that forensics support like I said it’s roughly about twenty five percent. Last year we did I think it’s around six hundred and fifty. For this year from January to this week we’ve done a little over two hundred autopsies.”

Cho also reminded the public that forensic autopsies are a free service and urged anyone who has been charged for such a service to report it to the authorities.

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