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Liberia: Call for Independent Investigation Into Critic's Death

FILE - Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf.

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.