Liberia: Court Orders Independent Autopsy on ‘Charloe Musu Body’

Charloe Musu, as depicted in this photograph, died on February 22


“The state is hereby ordered to reserve the body of Charloe Musu as long as the autopsy has not been conducted,” says Judge Willie.

Judge Roosevelt Willie has directed the Ministry of Justice to allow an independent expert to conduct an autopsy on the corpse of Charloe Musu.

The deceased is at the center of a high-profile trial involving former Chief Justice Gloria Musu Scott and three other alleged masterminds. 

The Criminal Court ‘C’ judge decision came in response to a request made by the defense team, which argued that an independent examination of the deceased's body was necessary to ensure transparency and integrity in the trial.

"The state is hereby ordered to reserve the body of Charloe Musu as long as the autopsy has not been conducted because this court has been informed and decided that the body should be interned,” Willie said in ruling while accepting the defense lawyers' request for a bill of information.

According to Willie, if the pathologist conducting the autopsy comes from outside of Liberia, the most important requirement is that the person meet all requirements set forth by the Liberian Dental and Medical Board. 

“The Pathologist should possess certificates concerning autopsy from a recognized medical institution, and the doctor should also have all requirements as may be necessary to enable him or her to conduct such an autopsy. 

“These requirements for the autopsy should be submitted to this court through the Council four or five days prior to conducting the autopsy, to enable the court to seek necessary advice from expert witnesses,” the judge ruled. 

Scott’s lawyer’s request, which the judge had now granted casts doubt on the findings of an autopsy conducted by Dr. Benedict Kolee,  a pathologist hired by the government, revealed that Musu, a relative of the former Chief Justice “was stabbed multiple times,” as a result, she died from internal bleeding.  

Kolee’s autopsy report and circumstances leading to the deceased led to the government indictment of Scott and three other family members for the crime of murder, and criminal conspiracy among others. 

As the most sought-after pathologist locally, Kolee has claimed in his report that Musus's death was associated with a collapse in the left lung, after excess blood clotting defects. 

“She drained most of her blood out, and that bleeding came mostly below the rib, [which] caused the blood inside the chest. You know she was stabbed multiple times, and so much blood inside the chest, caused the death. 

“That is [what] we have gathered from the preliminary results of the autopsy, with all of the needed evidence we need,” Kolee said.  

He added that at least 20 persons witnessed the autopsy, saying it was an open one to determine the scientific cause of her death. 

However, lawyers for Scott and her co-defendants have so far expressed doubts about Kolee's autopsy reports and have been requesting the judge for some time to grant their request for an independent expert autopsy. 

Willie’s decision to authorize an independent autopsy, according to legal experts, represents a significant development in the trial as it reflects his commitment to upholding the principles of justice and impartiality.

Experts noted the conduct of an independent autopsy would erase the fear of potential biases or conflicts of interest associated with the government's sponsored autopsy --  fostering trust in the trial's outcome and ensuring that justice is served.

The specifics related to the selection and qualifications of the independent expert is expected to be closely examined to ensure their impartiality and expertise in forensic pathology. Their findings are expected to be presented as crucial evidence during the trial, aiding the jury in reaching a fair and informed verdict.

The trial, which may likely extend beyond the August term of the Court,  has attracted significant attention due to the involvement of the former Chief Justice and the gravity of the charges. 

Willie's ruling comes more than four months after the government failed in its attempt to release Musu's body to the families who resisted on grounds that the government had ulterior motives when it denied their numerous requests to bury their daughter.  

The deceased died in the home of the former Chief Justice, who also happens to be her guardian, in the nighttime hours of February 22. 

The Minister of Information, Ledgerhood Rennie, then justified the release of the remains of the late Charloe to the family for burial as a result of a full investigation conducted by relevant authorities in connection to the case, and it has been sent to court.

Rennie's remarks came after the biological parents of the deceased had left Monrovia for their home in Maryland County, becoming frustrated after waiting for a few months to have their daughter buried, but to no avail, as the government claimed that the body was being kept for an autopsy.