US probers conduct autopsy on Fil-Am Navy officer
By Aie Balagtas See (The Philippine Star) Updated December 31, 2010 12:00 AMMANILA, Philippines – Investigators from the United States Navy conducted yesterday an autopsy on the remains of a Filipino-American naval officer who allegedly committed suicide a day after he was allegedly arrested with a small amount of cocaine at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) last Sunday.
US Naval Criminal Investigative Service (NCIS) pathologist and mortician worked with local policemen from Pasay City, Southern Police District, and airport police to examine the body of Lt. Commander Scintar Mejia at the Rizal Funeral Homes in Pasay.
“They are here because they want to check if foul play was involved in the death,” a source told The STAR.
The autopsy started 9:30 a.m. but as of 12 p.m. medical experts were still awaiting X-ray results of Mejia’s remains.
Media men were barred from witnessing the examination.
Chief Inspector Joey Goforth of the Pasay City police investigation division even asked the funeral homes employees to shut the door that links the main building to the morgue after seeing a photographer take pictures of the US and Filipino officials.
Family members of Mejia likewise were mum and turned down requests for interview.
”We have no comment. We can’t comment,” said a woman who identified herself as the victim’s sister.
Police Aviation Security Group (ASG) agents arrested Mejia, 32, who was about to depart for Los Angeles, last Sunday at the NAIA terminal after a sachet allegedly containing .03 grams of cocaine was seized from him.
He was brought to the ASG’s office at the NAIA for questioning.
Early the next day, the naval officer requested the ASG officers if he could relieve himself, but the restroom at the office was occupied. Authorities brought him outside of the office to go to another toilet.
But Mejia reportedly managed to run away from his guards and jumped from a nearby stairs while on the way to the bathroom. He landed headfirst at the concrete pavement and was rushed to San Juan De Dios Hospital where he died later.
A source said the substance initially tested positive of cocaine when examined by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA)’s field officers at the NAIA.
The examination, he claimed, was conducted in front of a representative from the US embassy.
PDEA’s report dated Dec. 27, however, said that the suspected drugs turned out to have negative findings of any dangerous drugs as examined by the duty chemist, Maria Therese Anne Domingo.
The source said, “there could be procedural lapses” with the way ASG held Mejia as they did not conduct a drug test after the substance tested positive.
The ASG, also, did not immediately submit the substance for confirmatory check at the PDEA, and forwarded it only hours after the victim’s death.
The source also noted that Mejia’s face had no wounds of injury marks, which somehow run contrary to witnesses claims that the victim was found lying face down.
The source added the victims body bore several bruises.
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