-Custodian demands 108,000 for storage fees
There was a horrific scene at the offices of the New Dawn newspaper on Wednesday June 24, 2015, when a mortuary operator displayed a mysterious human hand she said the Government had asked her to keep for over 9 years and counting.
The mysterious amputated hand which appears to be of that of a man about 6 ft, was deposited at a private mortuary-Saint Margret Funeral Services run by Madam Margret K. Menyongar in Kakata, Margibi County by a Sherriff from a local Magisterial Court in the county until needed by the court when the said case surrounding the hand is call.
The hand was deposited at the mortuary in 2006. The Magistrate, Peter Howard, who gave the directive for the amputated hand to be taken at the funeral home for storage at the time has since died, nothing has since been heard of the case up to date.
But the mysterious hand still remains in the possession of Madam Menyongar accruing storage fees of over US108, 000, as she passes around from one government agency to another not only begging for the government to pay her off but to also take possession of the hand and issue her a clearance.
“This is a government case, ” she told the editor of this paper. “I cannot just dispose of the hand because the government could come after me when it is ready for the case. But equally so, I am tired because the Liberian Government is yet to pay me a cent.
Madam Margret a former employee of the Government run C.H. Rennie Hospital in Kakata, said the court at the time requested her to store the mysterious hand, though she did not know whose hand it was but had followed instruction as part of the services she provides.
Unfortunately, years later after taking possession of the amputated hand, Madam Menyongar’s funeral home was gutted with fire. However, she has since managed to store the unknown hand up to date in the absence of city power.
She told journalists at the New Dawn that keeping the amputated hand has been very expensive for her, adding due to the lack of electricity to freeze the hand, her mortuary has spent so much money on expensive chemicals that she had to apply to preserve it, bearing in mind that the court could jail her if she did not properly secure the evidence to prevent it when needed.
The problem she now faces is not only how to dispose of the government evidence since current court officials are shying away but also the amount of US$108,000 in storage fees, which the Government is indebted to her.
She has vowed to pursue the matter saying, after nine years based on agreement with the court, she has kept her side of the deal and the government must respect hers.
“I don’t know this human being but the court sent this hand to me since 2006, I was at the mortuary when this hand was brought by the Sheriff at the magisterial court –upon the instruction of the late Peter Howard in Margibi County,” she repeatedly stated.
Margret said two years after the magisterial court sheriff handed the amputated hand over to her, she said went back to Magistrate Howard at the time asking that the court should take back the hand and pay her off.
She claims the court insisted that she should be patient as government would pay her when it is ready for the case. But the court’s assurance has not been forth coming in terms of settling its alleged financial obligation to her, she claims.
“I got so many witnesses; I even contacted the UNMIL (United Nations Mission in Liberia) Human Rights officer at the county level for his intervention. She said the UNMIL Rights officer went at the court and the County Attorney admitted to the arrangement – but has since refuse to effect payment.
In such business, she said this was not the first time she had transaction with the government at her mortuary. She recalled that government once asked her to store the body of a man. She said the corpse was transferred from Gbarnga, Bong County to her mortuary and she allegedly took that body to JFK referral hospital in Monrovia for autopsy.
She displayed copies of letters dated March 13 and March 23 separately written to Margibi County Attorney Mr. Isaac George and Liberia’s Justice Minister Cllr. Benedict Sannoh in addition to visiting their offices for their intervention, but she claims that nobody cares.
Photo copies of communications addressed to Cllr. Sannoh on March 23 and Margibi County Attorney George on March 13 this year are in the possession of the NewDawn; but efforts made to get comment from authorities at the Justice Ministry fail as relevant officials could not give comment immediately.
“In case after three or five years I throw this hand away and government call the case, I would be sentenced. So let government give me a clearance that yes we have withdrawn the hand from the funeral home and the funeral home is set freed, then I’m happy,” she demanded.
The depositing of human remains and body parts by courts is done here especially when such body part (s) or human remains are needed as evidence in an ongoing case. But that the government could abandonee both the case and the body part in the hands of funeral services operators speaks volumes of the country’s justice system.-Edited by Othello B. Garblah