Statement by Minister of Justice and Attorney General Cllr. Benedict F. Sannoh at Ministry of Information on February 19, 2016 Featured

19 February 2016, 5:16 pm Written by 
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Justice Minister Cllr. Benedict Sannoh delivers a press statement at a  special MICAT Press Conference Justice Minister Cllr. Benedict Sannoh delivers a press statement at a special MICAT Press Conference Photo Credit: Augustine Naplah

Following the death of Mr. Harry Greaves, I took this podium and announced that the Government of Liberia, consistent with its sovereign and statutory responsibility, will do everything

possible to ascertain the cause of death of Mr. Harry Greaves; to investigate the circumstances leading to his death, and where established that his death was criminal, to identify and to bring those implicated to justice. The Government has not waivered from this responsibility.

Consistent with this pledge, the Ministry of Justice through the Liberia National Police, took possession of the body, concluded arrangements with the Nebraska Institute of Forensic Sciences (a United States based institution, and one of the best forensic institutions in the World). This led to the arrival of two eminently qualified Pathologists to conduct a forensic examination of the body of Mr. Greaves with the view to informing the Government and indeed the family of the cause of death of Mr. Greaves.

On February 8, following a comprehensive forensic examination of the body of Mr. Greaves, in the presence of the Liberia National Police, prosecutors of the Ministry of Justice, and family members, and the receipt of preliminary report, I took this podium and announced the findings of the forensic examination.  At that Press conference, I stated in very clear and unequivocal terms, that the findings were preliminary, and that a full and comprehensive report will be issued following toxicology results. We have not yet received this comprehensive report.

We also announced that in furtherance of the desire of her Excellency the President  to have an independent, credible and transparent investigation into the circumstances leading to the death of Mr. Harry Greaves, and her directive to me to exhaust the possibility of the Government of the United States conducting this investigation  with the support of the Liberia National Police, I met with the Charge d’Affaires of the United States Embassy accredited near this capital, and subsequently requested the Government of the United States through him in a communicated dated February 2, 2016 to conduct the investigation.

On February 3, 2016, the Charge d’Affaires of the Embassy responded positively when he stated:
“Thank you for your February 2, 2016 letter requesting US Government assistance into conducting an independent, credible and transparent investigation into the death of Mr. Harry Greaves. We are exploring possible mechanism to provide assistance with this investigation, and note the urgency of the request, as the passage of time could be detrimental.”
Today, we are pleased to announce that the Government of the United States in response to the request of the Government of Liberia as contained in my letter of February 2, 2016, has expressed its preparedness to support the investigation into the death of Mr. Harry Greaves and has accordingly despatched two law enforcement agents who arrived yesterday and are currently engaged with officers of the Liberia National Police in furtherance of the investigation. We want to thank the Government of the United States for this timely response.

Notwithstanding these objective and transparent steps that we are taking as a Government, some of our citizens, influenced by wanton disregard of the truth, and driven by what I must characterise as irresponsible and reckless reporting, have done everything possible to make you believe that the Government is not acting properly. They have challenged the integrity of the Forensic examination report and lately have become medical doctors giving medical interpretations of reports surreptitiously obtained at the JFK Medical Center.

I note with concern in particular, an Article that appeared in the February 17, 2016 edition of the FrontPage Newspaper entitled “smoking gun.”  According to that Article, the medical examination conducted by doctors at the JFK Medical Center showed that there were blister like lesions from the neck down to Mr. Greaves chest; that there were noticeable peeling of the skin; that both arms were very swollen, large, contracted and still; that his abdomen was bloated, and that his rectum was widely dilated and oozing blood.  

Based on this report, many of our citizens as evidenced by newspaper articles, radio commentaries, and social media, have jumped to the conclusion that there is a discrepancy between the medical report issued by the JFK Medical Center and report issued by the Pathologists following a Forensic examination. This is indeed unfortunate.

Firstly, we confirm that Mr. Greaves body was examined by doctors at the JFK Medical Center and consistent with medical procedure, a medical report was generated. However, this was not a forensic examination. No medical doctor at the Medical Center is licensed to conduct forensic examinations to establish a cause of death. The report did not establish a cause of death. However, Medical opinions received thus far indicate that the JFK report is consistent with the forensic examination report, and that there is no contradiction or inconsistency.

Notwithstanding, and consistent with our resolve as a government, to have an independent, credible, and transparent investigation into the death of Mr. Greaves, the Government is prepared to go further to allay the fears and doubts that have now been created as a result of the JFK report.

Accordingly, I have initiated consultations with another Professional Forensic body in the United States with the view to engaging a Pathologist of their own choosing to come to Liberia so as to review the two reports and to give a professional opinion, and where warranted to conduct another forensic examination on the body of Mr. Greaves. The Government of Liberia, will bear the cost of this new review and examination.

This is the only way to bring these irresponsible allegations and conclusions to rest. This means that the Government will resume control over the body and proceed with the forensic examination.

We know what this means for the family, but in the face of the spurious allegations, the Government has no other choice. It is also in the best interest of the family to have this review done so as to help bring some psychological closure on the cause of death.

We appeal to the family to cooperate fully with the Liberia National Police and the core of US investigators now in the country as we look into the circumstances leading to the death of Mr. Greaves.

To the members of the Press, I again admonish you to exert efforts to ascertain the truth and report responsibly.
THANK YOU

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