Liberia: Princess Cooper’s Family, GoL Clash Over Autopsy

Preliminary  investigation from the Liberia National Police so far indicated “no foul play in the death of Ms. Cooper (right) despite being found face down in a pool of blood that had oozed from her mouth and nose. 



The family of the late Princess Cooper has clashed with the Ministry of Justice regarding the autopsy that has been conducted on the body of the deceased.

Ms. Cooper's family, as a result of their demand for a forensic autopsy, did not attend the March 27 clinical autopsy that was conducted by the government.  The family of the deceased has demanded a forensic autopsy on grounds that the cause of death may be criminal, while the government pushed ahead with the conduct of its clinical autopsy to find the medical cause of death since Ms. Cooper died of an unknown or uncertain cause.

The lifeless body of Ms. Cooper was found face-down 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. Ms. Cooper, 25, was a resident of the Tweh Farm, Bushrod Island Community. 

Dr. Abel N. Momo, who spoke on behalf of the family at their residence in Logan Town, narrated that before the autopsy, they held a meeting with the Minister of Justice, and demanded a forensic investigation from the crime scene, to people of interest, forensic autopsy.

“As a family representation, the family authorized me not to attend the autopsy because what they requested was not met,” he said. 

According to him, the Minister of Justice, Cllr. Frank Musa Dean, provided the CV of the pathologist through their family lawyer, but the family was not comfortable with the process. 

“That was why they left the autopsy scene. So I said okay since that’s your request [the parent]. I went in and talked to our team of pathologists. This is a family request and I said kindly excuse me,’’ Dr. Momo said in a Spoon TV interview.  “I was leaving and it will interest you that some people wanted my view. DR. Momo, why are you leaving I said I can’t say anything until I consult my lawyer, which we did, and left the scene at JFK. The family wants us to dig deeper.’’ 

Quoting the Minister of Justice, Maude M. Somah, the Director for Public Affairs at the Ministry of Justice, said "It is a part of the criminal investigation. Section 7.4 of our criminal Procedure Law, 1 Liberian Code of Laws Revised, title 2, states; The coroner may, if he is unable to ascertain the cause of death by preliminary examination, perform, if he is a competent medical practitioner, or authorize to be performed by a competent medical practitioner, an autopsy on the body of the deceased to determine the cause and circumstances of death.” 

The law, according to Somah mandates such an autopsy must be witnessed by two credible and discreet residents of the country, territory, or district in which it is performed, and the coroner shall have the power to compel their attendance by subpoena. 

Ms. Cooper's autopsy was conducted by Benedict Bongolie Kolee, a MERCK Foundation OncoPath Fellow with twelve years of experience working as a pathologist.

According to his CV, Kolee worked at the Korle Bu Teaching Hospital, Ghana, and Jackson F. Doe Memorial Hospital in Liberia where he served as Chief Medical Officer.

So far, the Liberia National Police (LNP) physical forensic examination conducted revealed that there was no foul play in the death of Ms.Cooper 

“Our forensic team conducted a physical examination on the body of the late Princess Cooper from the physical examination, observed that there was no laceration, and there were also no bruises. Our coroner conducted a coroner inquest on the body at the John F. Kennedy medical center and that coroner inquest that was conducted… for now there has been no foul observed. our investigation is continuing,’’ said police spokesperson, Moses Carter. 

However, Carter intimated that the police take the investigation very seriously and will explore every means possible to investigate the circumstances of the death of the late Princess Cooper and will determine the next action from the autopsy report.