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Coroners are appointed by the Governor and they have jurisdiction throughout the State. Under the Coroners Act 1995 a coroner may hold an inquest concerning the manner of death of any person where this was:
At the direction of the Attorney-General, the Coroner may also be required to hold an inquest concerning any death. In addition, the Coroner may have to determine the cause of a fire or explosion.
The duty of the Court is to determine who the deceased was, and the circumstances by which death occurred. Medical practitioners and other people may be summoned to give evidence. For example, in the case of the death in an institution, the Coroner may also inquire generally into the conditions and running of the institution. On the evidence submitted at the inquest, the Coroner can order a person to be committed to the Supreme Court and can grant bail. In the case of murder, a Coroner can issue a warrant for apprehension.
After considering a post-mortem report, the Coroner may dispense with an inquest unless the circumstances of death make an inquest mandatory under the Act.
There were 601 deaths reported to the Coroner in Tasmania in 2001-02. A total of 12 inquests and a further 589 inquiries were issued by the Coroner in 2001-02, to resolve cases where cause of death had not been determined.