—Lawmakers order Justice Minister to write letter of apology to Grand Bassa County Legislative Caucus over lack of collaborations, and disrespect.
Liberia’s Attorney General, Cllr. Frank Musa Dean, has angrily barked against the belief that “nobody dies from natural causes.”
Cllr. Dean’s exasperation stemmed from the plethora of demands for “autopsy” across the country due to a number of unexplained deaths, which many suspect to be murderous in nature, comes to public attention.
Dean said there is “no money” for the Government to underwrite such numerous requests to conduct autopsies from each of the 15 counties. According to him, autopsies are performed out of the country and, therefore, mysterious or natural deaths should not require an autopsy, but rather only homicide and suicide related deaths.
The Justice Minister said the country has only two pathologists and there is no laboratory in the country to do postmortem examinations.
Much to his chagrin, Minister Dean was cross-examined on Tuesday, February 18, 2020 at the the 11th day sitting of the Legislature, over the delay of an autopsy report of the late Robert Toe, a man who died on April 4, 2019.
The specimens of the late Toe are said to have been extracted for autopsy in November 2019; including his deliberate refusal to respond to three communications from the Grand Bassa County Legislative Caucus over the Late Toe’s autopsy.
Grand Bassa County Legislative Caucus chairman, Rep. Thomas Goshua, II, said the procrastination of the announcement of the autopsy is causing the remains of Robert Toe not be buried by his impatient and tearful family but, instead, have been in the morgue for over 10 months.
In his justification to the delayed autopsy, Justice Minister argued that government is facing financial constraints to the surplus request of autopsies, and that not every death requires autopsy and politicians are making it difficult for the government when they always allowed the population to demand an autopsy whenever some somebody dies even after the preliminary results are announced by their trained coroner.
“Let’s put this issue into perspective. We have only two pathologists in Liberia. Liberia has only two pathologists.
“Liberia does not have a laboratory. We extract specimens from here and send them to Ghana to do analysis. We are engaged with UNDP that has now agreed to give us a laboratory in which we were are now building at the John F. Kennedy Hospital,” Minister Dean said.
“But more than that, we who are Representatives, must tell people the truth.”
According to the Justice Minister, lawmakers should convince or use their political prowess to tell their constituents about the “natural death” of their constituents instead of being swayed of “mysterious or unnatural death.”
He indicated: “When one dies, the coroner is sent to do preliminary examinations. He may recruit the assistance of a medical doctor to aid him, though he has some medical knowledge.
When he determines that the death is not due to an unnatural cause, the remains are turned over to the family.”
Justice Minister Dean added: “In the two cases in Grand Bassa County, the people of Grand Bassa insisted that they will not accept the results of the preliminary examination conducted by the coroner. We have 15 counties, two pathologists – everywhere somebody dies, they say somebody killed him and you want an autopsy.
“That is the situation we are confronted with. There is no money to undertake such exercise, especially outside the law. Let’s face it. When the first person died in LAC, we went there. The citizens wanted to become rowdy when we sent in the coroner. He (coroner) came and said the person died from natural causes – but the Caucus insisted for autopsy.
“Every time the citizens put pressure on you, the Representatives – you, we understand they are your constituents, but not to put pressure on us too. And even when we spent what is reasonable, you don’t accept it because, at that point, there won’t be an autopsy but you insisted we sent the pathologist. They did the works and sent the samples to Ghana, the result came back, and he died from natural causes.”
“The second one, on Arcelor Mittal’s premises, the coroner went there, and all this time, we were engaged with the Superintendent and some members of the House of Representatives. The coroner said he (the second person) died from natural cause and, for that, they almost beat the coroner; we had to rescue him because the citizens were so edgy. To accommodate the situation, we said, okay, since you are insisting, we will do the autopsy. We sent the pathologist in there … we had to buy and do so much to find the money and buy everything. We put the samples together and they came back. The autopsy has to be done in Ghana but we won’t get the money for the pathologist to carry to Ghana.”
Meanwhile, Montserrado County District #8 Representative Acarous Gray argued that the lack of budgetary support and the limitation of pathologists cannot allow the Justice Ministry to do surplus autopsies. He said though he is in sympathy with the Grand Bassa County Legislative Caucus and understands their emotion, he had “no apology to stand on high moral grounds to commend the Justice Ministry for being effective.”
However, Bomi County District #1 Representative, Edwin Snowe, Jr., differed with Rep. Gray that even though it is understandable in the prolong period of any autopsy, but Minister, being an agent of the Executive, failed to collaborate with the Grand Bassa County Legislative Caucus on the progress.
Grand Bassa County District #4 Representative, Vincent Willie, fumingly said the Justice Ministry disrespected the County Caucus and, if an agent of the Executive can do so, it would haunt the independence of the Legislature. Meanwhile, in a motion proffered by Nimba County District #8 Representative, Larry Younquoi, Justice Minister Dean is mandated to apologize to the Grand Bassa County Legislative Caucus through a communication for his lack of collaboration and, henceforth, make progressive reports over the progress of the autopsy of the late Robert Toe.