By Festus Poquie
President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and her officials are demonstrating an unacceptable level of arrogance rooted in share insensitivity not only for the dead but humanity. They hired and transported into the country an American pathologist that they do not believe in his competence and qualification and made him to perform an autopsy on the corpse of its critics – Harry Augustus Greaves.
The questionable Credibility of this American pathologist that the regime helped to compound when they said he was not a good professional has deservedly cast doubt over the outcome of his ‘no foul play’ medical examination result in the Greaves murder saga..
Dr. Thomas Bennett professional work has been fraught with controversies and in some instances his autopsies report subjected to review. On top of this the government has acknowledged that the US Pathologist was fired in Montana USA for ethical breach.
Also this same government in the Angel Torkpah murder case cited Bennett questionable record in the US with State prosecutors at that time terming his report as faulty and unqualified to clearly establish the real cause of death and thus could not be admitted in the court of law.
Now, because of the glaring distrust in this discredited pathologist, the people of Liberia are calling on their elected government to discard the result in its hands and arrange for a second independent autopsy. We are in agreement with this public position. But the democratically elected government of the people is saying no to its people whose taxes are being used to home, feed, car and cloth its officials. This is arrogance to the dead. This is insensitivity to humanity and callous disregard to the justice of truth seeking beyond all reasonable doubts that will solely benefit would be killers of the killed politician.
That the government is sticking to the Bennett Autopsy Report until thy kingdom comes, leaves many questions than answers: when did President Sirleaf and her prosecutors realize that this US pathology is eminently qualified and is a ‘good professional’ when they had said he was a bad professional? Is it that bad pathologist becomes good pathologist to establish the cause of death of critics and thus his report is considered law and gospel?
Let it be made clear that those who hired Thomas Bennett did so in bad faith. Knowing full well that he has a discredited record coupled with the gravity and sensitivity surrounding the mysterious death of a fallout ally who became a critic of a dying regime the selection was nothing but poor judgment.
Autopsy performance is a critical aspect of the criminal justice system and it is therefore professional that pathologists maintain record of due care and believability. The verified information that a US state Attorney General terminated Bennett’s services because of discredited professional performance is sufficient red flag and reasonable ground for this government not to associate with him on such matter.
Associate Justice Sie-A-Nyene Youh Speaking at the opening of the February Term of Court for Criminal Courts A,B, C and E at the Temple Justice in Monrovia, said the Supreme Court excepts to lawyers poor research ability and recklessness.
The jurist Indicated that lawyers failure to read the law was shameful and that it was causing the state and the judiciary to lose lot of resources. This is true. Justice Minister Benedict Sannoh falls in this category of lazy lawyers who cannot read. His failure to read and make research has caused the state to waste thousands of dollars in hiring a pathologist with history of credibility crisis.
The state of Montana, USA rejected Bennett’s autopsy reports and Monrovia, Liberia is doing likewise. What is not good for Montana is not good for Monrovia. So, the autopsy performed on Greaves Corpse is only useful for Bennett and Benedict, not the Republic of Liberia. Sticking to the Bennett autopsy is tantamount to cover-up, which is a crime in law.
If the desire to uphold the Americans work is so dear and high, the perfect equilibrium here is that the report should be subjected to a team of Independent forensic experts review. This is called international best practice.
For example, Charles Smith until 2007 was considered a leading pathology in Canada. But the Ontario pathologist expert opinions saw innocent parents jailed and accused of killing their children.
A public inquiry was called into his work after a team of forensic experts reviewed Smith’s work and found he made questionable conclusions of foul play in 20 child autopsies, 13 of which resulted in criminal convictions.
The review, with findings made public in April 2007, focused on 45 child autopsies Smith conducted between 1991 and 2002, when he was considered a leading expert on pediatric forensics at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children. Smith apologized for the mistakes he made, and admitted his training was inadequate.
The Charles Smith case illustrates that pathologists like other professionals are not error free and when there are doubts associated with their works it is only prudent for it to be reviewed or squashed. But since the Attorney General is insisting that there will be no more autopsy conducted, Let Harry Greaves rest in peace, knowing that the government he worked for and criticized hired a pathologist it does not believe can do a good job is the man clothed with the responsibility of determining the cause of his death.