A four-person medical delegation that arrived in the country from La Cote d’Ivoire to perform a second and or final autopsy on the remains of Mr. Harry A. Greaves Jr. did not carry on the task due to “medical complications,” the Daily Observer has reliably learnt.
It was gathered that upon their arrival in the country over the weekend, the Ivorian Pathologists reportedly observed that the autopsy on the body could not be done, “because formalin was placed on the body thereby taking away the entire vital organs.”
“Actually, formalin causes a modification of the body and organs. It becomes difficult even impossible to make the difference between ante-mortem lesions (vital lesions) and post-mortem lesions. The diagnosis of the cause of death de facto becomes practically impossible on a body treated with formalin. The formalin is highly toxic for the one who conducts the autopsy. It creates an irritation of the respiratory tracts,” the Minister of Justice, Cllr. Benedict Sannoh said, quoting the Ivoirians.
Based on the report, Minister Sannoh denied stopping the Ivoirians from performing the autopsy, adding, “I particularly did not stop and could not stop the conduct of the autopsy because we brought in a team of the pathologists from La Cote d’Ivoire to carry on the exercise, and want to remain grateful to the government of that country for responding to our appeals.”
It was also gathered that members of the Greaves family had prior to the arrival of the Ivoirian medical team taken the body to the JFK morgue where it was embalmed.
This latest information means funeral arrangements set for the past weekend would be rescheduled, thus conflicting with travel schedule for some family members who came from abroad.
The coming of the Ivoirian pathologists became necessary following the release of a highly controversial autopsy report from an American pathologist, Thomas Bennett.
Dr. Bennett, who received his medical degree from the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine and has been in practice for 37 years, examined Mr. Greaves body and attributed the cause of death to “drowning;” a report, the public described as “flimsy” (poor, feeble, unconvincing.)
But in a letter to the Greaves family, dated February 3, Minister Sannoh said, “The Government of La Cote d’Ivoire has agreed to send four persons, among them, two pathologists, one technician, and one official to Liberia to perform the second autopsy on the remains of Mr. Greaves, and that the team arrived in the country on Thursday, March 3 for the purpose.”
By that, the Minister said, the government will be prepared to hand over the body of Mr. Greaves to the family following the completion of that exercise.
This, the letter said, will enable the family to hold funeral services on Saturday, March 5, consistent with the desire of the family, but the date expired without Mr. Greaves being buried.
Sannoh confirmed that the Liberian government had earlier requested the governments of Morocco, La Cote d’Ivoire and Egypt, individually through diplomatic channels, to second a pathologist to Liberia for the purpose of the review of the records and where appropriate to conduct a second on or before Thursday, March 3.
“The second autopsy” he said, “was intended to show transparency and accountability in the process because as government, we are there to ensure that citizens live a peaceful life.”
From the contents of the communications to the three foreign governments, the Daily Observer also gathered that Liberia Foreign Ministry confirmed the arrival of only the four Ivoirians.
It all began on March 3, when Justice Minister Sannoh wrote a letter to Harry Greaves’ widow, Precious A. Greaves, “That under the cover of a communication dated February 27, I re-asserted the resolve of the Government of Liberia to have an independent review of the findings of the first forensic examination report and the JFK Medical Center Report and where appropriate to conduct another forensic examination of the body of your late husband, Mr. Harry A. Greaves Jr.”
Paragraph two of the letter said, “In furtherance of the aforesaid resolve, we submitted to the family the names of three qualified forensic pathologists along with their CVs for your review and comments. Up to date, we have not received any formal response from you.”
Notwithstanding, Sannoh’s letter said, “We are aware that during the discussions that ensued between the family and the government liaison following the delivery of my letter of February 28, referred to herein, views were expressed by some family members that two of the pathologists are “old and retired” and that the third pathologist is “a celebrity.”
“In our opinion, these characterizations and views are inconsistent with acceptance of the three pathologists,” Minister Sannoh said.
The late Greaves was former Managing Director of the Liberia Petroleum Refinery Corporation (LPRC); and prior to his death on January 29, headed consortiums that were advocating for greater involvement of the public in Liberia’s quest for cheaper and available supply of electricity and in that sector.