Inquest into Iranian asylum seeker Hamid Kehazaei's death begins


A coroner’s inquest into the death of Iranian asylum seeker Hamid Kehazaei begins today, more two years after he died from a treatable foot infection in a Brisbane hospital.

Mr Kehazaei was transferred from Manus Island in Papua New Guinea

Coroner Terry Ryan is expected take evidence on conditions for detainees at the Australian-run detention centre, health care provided to Mr Kehazaei and the time it took the Immigration department to transfer him to a Brisbane hospital for treatment.

He died from a bacterial infection, that is treatable with antibiotics if identified early enough, on 5 September 2014.

Mr Kehazaei arrived on Christmas Island in August 2013 just after the Rudd Labor government re-established off-shore processing for all asylum seekers arriving by boat.

Almost a year after being transferred to Manus, Mr Kehazaei went to the detention centre hospital, operated by International Health and Medical Services (IHMS).

Doctors sought an immediate transfer to a Port Moresby hospital on 25 August.

During an almost 24-hour bureaucratic delay in Department of Immigration, his condition worsened and doctors requested he be immediately medevaced to Brisbane, for what had become a critical condition.

Instead of being flown to Brisbane, he was flown to Port Moresby and suffered multiple heart attacks in hospital there.

About 48 hours after doctors first asked for his immediate transfer, Immigration gave permission for him to be flown to Brisbane.

At the Mater Hospital, he remained unconscious until he died five days later, when family gave permission for his life support to be turned off.

It was today reported by The Guardian Australia that leaked documents revealed the background to the delays in treating Mr Kehazaei as well as his declining mental health in the period leading up to his death.

CEO of the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre Kon Karapanagiotidis said he was appalled by the circumstances in which Hamid Kehazaei died.

"[My reaction] was one of extraordinary shock, disgust to think that a young man in the prime of his life could have an infection that could have been treated with the most basic of antibiotics ... ended up dead.

"We've actually heard reliably consistently from people in detention prison that if they want to see a doctor they have to write in English and if they can't write in English then it's their problem," Mr Karapanagiotidis said.

Mr Kehazaei's family requested that his organs be donated and that his body be repatriated to Iran for burial.

With Naomi Selvaratnam

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