American Investigators Coming? How Long Shall We Remain Dependent?

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Justice Minister Benedict Sannoh has announced that Liberia had requested the United States government to send a team of criminal investigators to Liberia to help conduct an investigation into Mr. Harry A. Greaves’ mysterious death.

Over the past three weeks since he disappeared from the RLJ Resort and his body was found on the beach behind the Foreign Affairs Ministry, this newspaper has been calling for a criminal investigation into this tragic incident. We have strongly felt that the nation could not sit idly by and permit such a great and tragic loss to take place right before our very eyes without knowing what really happened to him—did he drown? Did he commit suicide? Was he beaten to death, even sodomized, since people who saw the body said they suspected blood from the rectum? Was he murdered?

A week or so ago we asked the widow, Mrs. Precious Andrews Greaves, whether she would request a criminal investigation now that the “autopsy” had been released. She replied that she knew nothing about a criminal investigation. All she wanted at this point was the body of her husband, “so we can give him a decent funeral and let him rest in peace.”

Nor has the Liberian public any clue of a criminal investigation.

The government had all along been silent on all of these questions until its representatives showed up at an Information Ministry press briefing a little over a week ago to announce a hurriedly and haphazardly arranged “autopsy report” by highly questionable pathologists, who claimed that Mr. Greaves “drowned.”

These were the same so-called pathologists that performed the autopsy on the remains of little Angel Tokpa, claiming that she committed suicide instead of having been murdered. A Cuban team of pathologists had earlier reported that the child had been molested and murdered. But the public believed that the whole thing had been politicized with the involvement of these American ‘pathologists’ whose report few Liberians believed.

The only hint of police activity at the RLJ was when one of our reporters discovered last Friday some ERU officers in the resort’s security booth. They told him they were there to protect the premises from any angry mob demonstration.

Suddenly now, the government came up at the weekend with an announcement that GOL had requested the United States government to send two criminal investigators to help with the “investigation” into Mr. Greaves’ demise.

What investigation? This newspaper, the Daily Observer, has been urging a criminal investigation, yet there has been no word of one in the making. They already had the first person to be investigated—Mr. Greaves’ driver Flomo, whom they arrested and kept in jail for a week. GOL’s next step should have been to proceed directly to the crime scene, the RLJ Resort, where Driver Flomo had driven Mr. Greaves at around midday Friday, January 29. But the police authorities, on whose behalf Heaven knows, immediately discounted RLJ as a crime scene. That is precisely why it has taken so long to start a criminal investigation. Now GOL thinks it can impress the Liberian people by suddenly announcing that two American investigators are coming “to help with the investigation.” Which investigation, when you never told us one was underway?

We submit that this is the Attorney General’s first indication that the government is even thinking of conducting a criminal investigation into Mr. Greaves’ disappearance and death.

But why? Why could he not have ordered it immediately following the tragic episode? Why now? Do not come and tell us that a criminal investigation has been ongoing that you never announced.

As welcome as this new development is, how credible will it be with GOL choosing, hiring, guiding and paying the American investigators? We suggest that a strong contingent of independent civil society, criminal investigation and media personnel be assigned to work along with all those involved in investigating Harry Greaves’ death, including our own CID.

The GOL has to strive to make credible this belated investigation into Harry’s death. Otherwise it will receive the identical negative public reaction that the so-called “autopsy” did.

Finally, why do we insist on being perpetually dependent, even now asking the Americans to do this, too, for us—and more strikingly when we have not first seriously engaged our own CID?

The government must learn to challenge its people, its officials to be highly responsible, resourceful, accountable, transparent and self-confident and self-reliant in everything they do. After all, we are an independent nation fast approaching its 169th independence anniversary.

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