Coroner to investigate refugee self-immolation death

An inquest has been announced into the 2016 death of 23-year-old Omid Masoumali.

Omid Masoumali

Omid Masoumali Source: Supplied

Queensland’s coroner will investigate the death of Iranian refugee Omid Masoumali who set himself on fire on Nauru in 2016 during a visit by the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR.

The inquest will examine ”whereby the decease was seen to set fire to his own clothing and the factors precipitating his decision to take that action” and “the health and medical evacuation services provided to the deceased”, the coroner’s office said in a public notice.

Graphic video footage recorded on 27 April 2016, showed Mr Masoumali on fire in front of UN officials inspecting conditions in the Australian-run off-shore processing facility and another video showed him screaming in pain in hospital.

The 23-year-old died two days later after first being admitted to Nauru’s hospital for 24-hours before being air-lifted to the Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital.

The Australian Medical Association at the time questioned delays in transferring him to Brisbane to receive treatment for extensive burns to his body and called for an inquest.

The then-Department of Immigration and Border Protection in a statement after his death said: "The most rapidly deployable air ambulance was used to attend this emergency”.

Coroner Terry Ryan has called for witnesses or anyone wanting to provide further information to contact his office ahead of the 11 October pre-inquest conference to assess appearance applications and set further hearing dates.

Mr Masoumali and his partner arrived in Australia by boat in September 2013, were then sent to Nauru and received refugee status in December 2014.

2 min read
Published 17 September 2018 at 4:26pm
By Stefan Armbruster