Family concerned over Africa death inquest

Karen Sweeney
·2-min read

Family of an Australian woman who died suspiciously in Africa four years ago fear if a Victorian inquest ends without a finding they'll be back to square one.

Elly Warren was found dead outside a toilet block in the Mozambique beach town of Tofo in November 2016.

The 20-year-old was just two days from returning to Australia after a volunteer marine conservation trip when she died.

Her father Paul Warren requested an inquest into her unsolved death two years ago and on Tuesday coroner Darren Bracken said he hoped it would go ahead in the middle of this year.

But Ms Warren's stepfather Dave Cafarella is worried that might be too soon given delays in information coming from Mozambique.

Australian Federal Police officers have not formally been part of the investigation into Ms Warren's death.

There is a formal process where they can apply to Mozambique to join the investigation and the southern African nation's authorities have now revealed they're open to it.

Mr Bracken said it would be useful if that were to occur.

He hoped an inquest, taking about a week, could happen mid-year. But he noted it could be pushed back if investigations are ongoing.

An alternative would be that the inquest goes ahead without additional information the court and AFP investigators requested from Mozambique in December.

Mr Cafarella said the middle of this year wasn't long for Mozambique to respond.

"Our biggest concern with this is that the coronial inquest could end without a finding," he said.

"And if that were the case then the AFP would stop investigating, Mozambique would more than likely stop investigating and we'd be back to square one. If that happened I think we'd all feel pretty let down."

Mozambique authorities have made an official finding that Ms Warren was murdered, but Mr Cafarella and Ms Warren's mother Nicole Cafarella fear they will be quick to go back on that ruling.

They believe if an Australian court records an undetermined finding, or one other than homicide, that the Mozambique authorities will follow suit and end their investigation.

That would leave private investigators hired by Ms Warren's family as their only hope for answers.

Mr Bracken said he was very conscious of their concerns. A date is yet to be formally set for the inquest.

The AFP was also granted permission to redact certain information from the inquest brief on Tuesday.

Andrew Yuile, for the AFP, said there was a chance the release of information could prejudice ongoing investigations or damage international relations with Mozambique.

"It would have, or could have, a further impact on the future conduct of this investigation - if that relationship breaks down even less material may be obtained by this court, given the need for co-operation in their provision of information to Australia," he said.