News / Africa

    Liberia: Call for Independent Investigation Into Critic's Death

    FILE - Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.
    FILE - Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.
    James Butty

    A Liberian opposition leader is calling for an independent investigation into the mysterious death of a government critic – Harry Greaves – whose naked body was discovered last month on the beach behind the Liberian ministry of foreign affairs building in Monrovia. 

    An American pathologist hired by the Liberian government said Greaves died from drowning.

    Simeon Freeman, leader of the opposition Movement for Progressive Change in Liberia, is wanted for questioning by the police after accusing the government of having a blacklist of politicians and critics of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. Freeman also questioned Greaves' alleged drowning.

    He called VOA from an undisclosed location in Africa to say that what he’s wanted for saying represents the prevailing sentiments in the country. 

    “These are not even my expressions. We are public figures and we read things in the public space. When you turn on a radio station in the morning, you hear tons of what callers say; when you read social media, you see tons of what people say; when you read newspapers, in fact in one of the newspapers, there was a blacklist, that people should be careful,” he said.

    Freeman said when public figures like himself see that someone like Harry Greaves died under mysterious circumstances, they have a responsibility to elevate the conversation by bringing the public’s concerns to the attention of policy makers.

    “The greatest threat to national security is not my presence or things that I have said. The greatest threat to national security is the underfunding of the police that has made it a vehicle to be exploited by criminals and criminal elements. When people go to bed and have no security, that's the greatest threat. So it’s the action of policy makers that’s causing the threat, and not those who talk about it,” he said.

    He repeated comments attributed to him earlier in the Liberia press that the late Greaves had enemies within the Liberian government.

    “Obviously, Harry Greaves was a serious champion for cheap electricity. Harry Greaves' letter that was published by FrontPage Africa showed some of the strong opposition that he had to deal with regarding the electricity issue. So he took on a monumental thing, and obviously that generated for him strong enemies,” Freeman said.

    Autopsy report

    The government hired a team of U.S. pathologists headed by Dr. Thomas Bennet from the state of Montana.

    Despite repeated requests to several government agencies, including the police and information ministry, no one from the Liberian government was immediately available to comment on the death of Harry Greaves.

    But according to reports in the local media, Justice Minister Cllr. Benedict Sannoh said: “The probable cause of death is as a result of salt water drowning, there is no gross evidence of ante-mortem traumatic injuries. The findings include multiple post-mortem blunt traumatic muscular skeleton injuries as skin changes consistent with prolong immersion in sea water and in part on ocean rocks”, Sannoh said.

    Also, the Justice Minister disclosed that there was no evidence of sodomy as reported in the media.

    Freeman said there should be an independent investigation of Mr. Greaves’ death because the pathologist hired by the government has a tainted record.

    He said if the Liberian government wants to act in good faith, it must set up a committee representing political parties, civil society, and the Council of Churches that will find a pathologist with a good record to come to Liberia and do a second autopsy.

    Freeman said he has every legitimate reason to be afraid of the Liberian police because there have been a number of mysterious deaths of high-profile individuals whose killers have yet to be apprehended

    “I was attacked in the street, and we made contact with very powerful people near our capital who are very committed to the practice of democracy, and they were able to get us out of Liberia. That’s all I can say at this stage,” Freeman said.

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    Comment Sorting
    by: Robin from: Raleigh,nc
    February 22, 2016 1:05 PM
    It is very shameful with all of the branches of security within our country, that we have to ask America to investigate a death within our country. Who is going to pay for this investigation? Are we once again asking the American government to handle our domestic affairs. Why than do we have a budget allotment for police and other investigating groups. This is a shame and we need to withdraw this request

    by: Dannyman
    February 12, 2016 7:59 AM
    All those who brought autrosity to this sweet land will died. Harry Greaves is just the beginning then we can't hear our ears or because he fell off with the regime so the regime kill him. We are aware of Harry's role in our nation tumor it is just the beginning Liberians because God is ready for them.

    by: Kollie kolaco
    February 12, 2016 1:35 AM
    People will alway die, Liberia will not revert to war and anarchy anymore, Freeman is a fool that is looking for public attention.

    by: John Hassay
    February 11, 2016 7:05 PM
    These re similar situation that causes the liberians' civil u rest. When opposition speaks on issues of relevant such as corruption, death of citizens, bad governance, the government of the day , send arm officers @ the homes of these people. These situations causes alarm n national insecurity. The UP government has failed miserably n so it is pursuing those who re being vocal on issues.

    by: Oliver Wilson from: Monovia, Liberia
    February 11, 2016 1:29 PM
    Seems to me, Simeon Freeman exit himself from the 2017 Presidential Election.

    by: Peter Kortuwah from: USA
    February 10, 2016 11:23 AM
    This story is very disturbing, especially since most of the people in that government (including President Ellen Sirleaf herself) are well-known to be war criminals, per the 2009 Report of the Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Thus, the US, the UN, and relevant members of the International Community should take a good hard look at corruption and crime in Liberia, so that country does not revert to anarchy and bloodshed.
    In Response

    by: Oliver Wilson from: Monrovia, Liberia
    February 11, 2016 12:15 PM
    Anarchy and bloodshed, these are very strong words to use, and shouldn’t be used in this scenario. Look, Liberia can't revert to conflict now, neither within the period of 100 years to come. The generation that experienced chaos and bloodshed, still exist in Liberia. They will not welcome same. There will always be stories like these, and they will always be disturbing. There has been similar stories like in other African countries. Ghana is an example - few days ago an MP was stabbed in his house, and eventually perished. There are also corruption and crime activities in countries like Sierra Lone and Ivory Coast. Does that mean they will revert to anarchy and bloodshed? The International Community primary focused should be on Syria, and other counties where there are skirmishes.

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