12 Jun 2004

Trial begins for Samoa nurse on abortion charges

9:39 am on 12 June 2004

The trial of a registered nurse accused of performing abortions at the national hospital has begun in Samoa's Supreme Court.

Akalita Apelu has pleaded not guilty to 17 charges of procuring abortions.

A co-worker testified on the first day of trial that Apelu performed an abortion, on the co-worker's sister in the national hospital.

The judge has suppressed names and details of women alleged to have received abortions.

The witness says she took over Apelu's duties while the defendant attended to her sister's abortion.

She said the procedure lasted only 30 minutes.

Women aged between 19 and 45 gave evidence and identified instruments Apelu allegedly used to perform the abortions.

Thirteen women claim that Apelu performed abortions on them between 2001 and 2002.