Liberia: Princess Cooper's Family Accepts Gov't Offer for Another Autopsy

This government autopsy report comes just weeks after Police spokesman Moses Carter disclosed that the Liberia National Police preliminary report revealed no foul play.

The Government of Liberia, through the Minister of Justice, has held a meeting with the family of the late Princess Cooper at the Ministry of Justice in Monrovia.

The meeting was pursuant to the President’s directive to the Attorney General to ensure the conduct of a second autopsy on the remains of the late Ms. Cooper, who died on March 24.

The second autopsy is to be conducted by a pathologist designated by the family.  Ms. Cooper's body was found in a fence behind the FAWAZ Building Construction Company at the ELWA Junction, Paynesville City, in a pool of blood that had oozed from her mouth and nose, according to the Liberia National Police. She was a resident of the Tweh Farm, Bushrod Island Community.

During the meeting, the family promised to suggest a name of a pathologist of their choice to the Government through the Justice Ministry within the next 48 hours.

The lasted update from the government comes after the family of Princess Cooper vehemently rejected an autopsy report by two Liberian pathologists that the deceased died mainly of progressive secondary pulmonary tuberculosis.

The autopsy report by Drs. Benedict Kolee and his colleague, Zoebon B. Kpadeh said the evidence pointed out that Ms. Cooper had underlying health conditions that caused her death. They argued that from professional and expert opinion, the deceased died naturally as a result of hemorrhagic shock, that massive hemorrhage from a ruptured Rasmussen aneurysm and erosion of bronchial vessels, as well as progressive secondary pulmonary tuberculosis.

"In our professional and expert opinion, the manner of death is NATURAL," Dr. Kolee, who read the report yesterday at the Ministry of Information, Cultural Affairs, and Tourism, on behalf of he and his colleague.  “Findings from the autopsy suggested that Princess Cooper died of internal bleeding caused by tuberculosis.”

However, the family of the deceased has not just rejected the autopsy report but denied the pathologists’ claim that Ms. Cooper died of tuberculosis. They too argued that there is no medical history of their deceased daughter having tuberculosis and the contents of the report aren't just consistent with the medical history of the deceased, and it also falls short of making sense of the pattern of death.

The spokesperson of the family, Dr. Abel Momoh, said Ms. Cooper's medical report, presented to the pathologists before the autopsy, was hematemesis — a serious condition in which blood is expelled from the mouth.

“I will tell you that tuberculosis — which is the cause of death according to the pathologists — is Hemoptysis.  Hemoptysis is coughing of blood, but what Princess had was hematemesis, so hematemesis is not consistent with tuberculosis,” he said. "So the collective view of the family is that they are not accepting the report because we strongly believe that Princess did not die from hemorrhagic shock.  We feel that the report is not consistent with the normal happenings of our sister's death; as such, the family cannot take such a report from the Liberian government.  What came out is not consistent with the pattern of death.”

According to a GOL Release, the late Princess Cooper’s parents, Nelson and Jartu Cooper, were in attendance – as well as her brother who serves as the spokesperson for the family Dr. Abel N. Momo. Others who attended Tuesday’s meeting included Cllr. Tiawon Gongloe, former President of the Liberian National Bar Association, Bishop Kortu Brown President of the Liberia Council of Churches, and Secretary-General Rev. Christopher Wleh Toe also of the Liberia Council of Churches.

President George M. Weah on Monday called on the Attorney General Frank Musah Dean to avail the remains of the late Princess Cooper for the conduct of a second autopsy, after the family and some Liberians expressed doubts about the results of the autopsy report presented by the Liberian Government through Pathologists Benedict Kolee and Zoeborn Karteh. 

While expressing his profound sympathy to the families of Princess Cooper and Melvin Togba, President Weah asked that Princess’ family take advantage of the opportunity in the soonest possible time. He directed that the cost of the second autopsy be covered by the Government of Liberia.

Meanwhile, in a separate meeting with the family of the late Melvin Togba, the Justice Minister directed the release of their remains of Melvin to the family for burial.