Iranian asylum seeker brain dead on transfer to Australia

Issue 

By the time Manus Island detainee Hamid Kehazaei was transferred to Australia he was already brain dead, documents produced at a pre-inquest conference show. He was transferred from Port Moresby in a comatose state and confirmed dead on arrival at Brisbane’s Mater Hospital.

Kehazaei was transferred from Christmas Island to in September 2013. On August 23 last year he was given intravenous antibiotics for a leg ulcer. When it had not improved two days later a request for urgent removal to hospital was made. This was not approved until the following day.

By this time, Kehazaei was delirious, had deteriorating lung function and had suffered multiple cardiac arrests. He arrived at a Port Moresby hospital in a deeply comatose state. He was transferred to Mater Hospital in Brisbane and was confirmed brain dead on September 2. Life support was withdrawn on September 5.

This hearing will consider whether Kehazaei was a “death in custody”. Because the regional processing centres are managed by PNG, Kehazaei was not actually in Australian custody. But there is no documentation to show he was in PNG custody and it is unclear under which Act — Australian or PNG — he was held.

The main inquest will decide “whether the authorities charged with providing for Mr Kehazaei’s physical healthcare needs adequately discharged those responsibilities with respect to the condition of his leg”. Scrutiny will extend to his transfer to the Pacific International hospital in Port Moresby.

The inquest will continue in November.

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