The Ministry of Defense today whisked away the body of the late Shaki Kamara, 16, who was wounded by a stray bullet on Wednesday, August 20, 2014, during the West Point riot.
The teenagers’ body was seen wrapped in a white hospital bed sheet and protective plastic as it was being placed into a Striker Funeral Home vehicle.
Heavily armed security forces, including the Liberian National Police, stood by inside and around the hospital premises as they prepared to take his body away.
When asked by the Daily Observer as to why such tight security was needed for the removal of a teenager’s body, an officer, who asked not to be named stated, “It’s to make sure that no one tries taking the body away from us while we’re moving it.”
The late Shaki Kamara was admitted at Redemption hospital hours after he was allegedly wounded on August 20, 2014.
According to his uncle Favor Blamo, the teenager was shot in his right leg during an alleged stone throwing and gun shooting battle between residents of WestPoint and the AFL/LNP.
“ They fired at him on the legs, and he was brought to Redemption hospital on the same day. We went there and the hospital people said we should come later; and that’s how it’s been since we’ve been coming here,” the uncle explained.
It’s said by sources that the late Shaki had lost a lot of blood upon his arrival, and the family was told that he needed blood but to no avail.
“He died Thursday by 3pm. He bled for so long and ended up dying because of it. They requested for blood and no one was there to give him blood,” Mr. Blamo lamented.
The family said Shaki had first been taken to the J. F. Kennedy Medical Center in Sinkor, where he was refused treatment. They then took him to other hospitals, who also refused to treat him.
He was finally accepted at Redemption, where he lay in his pains, bleeding until he died.
His mother, Eva Nah, said she had sent her son to buy tea and bread in the morning. It was while returning that he was caught up in the melee in West Point Wednesday morning, when he was shot in both legs.
When Shaki’s sister, sent by her mother, Ms. Eva Nah, went to the Redemption Hospital to find her brother, she found him lying dead on the floor in a pool of blood, without having received any medical attention since the Wednesday morning when he was reportedly shot.
Photos in possession of the Observer show that at least two other young men sustained injuries, one to the stomach.
Today, a Redemption Hospital employee escorted our reporter onto the hospital’s premises to observe the removal of the late Shaki.
Two medical officials were seen wearing protective suits as they placed the corpse into the Striker funeral vehicle.
The Defense Ministry Deputy for Operations, St. Jerome Larbelee, upon identifying our reporter, seized her camera.
“I should arrest you,” he threatened our young female reporter. “Who told you to come here? The way things are done in America is not how we do them here. I have to make sure you don’t have anything in that camera that will interfere with what we are doing.”
According to our reporter, the Defense official stated that the operation of removing the late Shaki’s body was being done under tight security. “He said I shouldn’t have breached it,” the reporter told us.
Meanwhile, the family of the late Shaki claims they have been trying effortlessly to reclaim his body for burial since his demise.
Shaki’s sister, who went to the hospital to inquire about her brother’s body, told the Observer what authorities told her.
“I spoke with the Deputy Minister of Operations at Defense myself and told him that we wanted to see [Shaki’s] body while they were taking it away. I was told to go to my mother in West Point for any information that I wanted. My mother Mary, who Shaki was living with, said that they want to have a State burial for him.
“Small boy like that, why should he have a State burial? It’s not right. We should have right to his body,” Shaki’s sister, Evon Kamara, explained to the Daily Observer.
The late teenager’s aunt, who was also on the scene, confirmed Evon’s account of events. “They didn’t tell us anything. Police told us they came for body and also told us that they’re taking it to funeral home. They told us we can’t take it and government owns it. We begged and they refused,” Rachel Johnson told the Observer.
Meanwhile, the family has yet to understand why they have lost privileges to the body of the late Shaki Kamara. They have also stated that due to financial constraints, they were unable to follow the body to Striker Funeral Parlor immediately after his body was taken.
As for our reporter, she has yet to receive the items that were seized from her during her coverage of this story. Mr. Larbelee threatened to delete the footage on her camera before it could be returned. Higher ups at the Defense Ministry, however, upon intervention from their bosses, assured the Observer’s Managing Director, Kenneth Y. Best, that the camera would be returned intact.