– Justice Ministry reports
The Liberian Government has linked the death of a controversial lawyer and whistleblower Attorney Michael Allison, to drowning, based on two separate autopsies conducted by American and Sierra Leonean pathologists.
Controversies intensified in the public here over the lawyer’s death in February 2015 on a beach in Sinkor, Monrovia, months into an incessant public pressure against House Speaker J. Alex Tyler, to step aside and face investigation at the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission for claims that the deceased had implicated him into an alleged financial scandal in his dealing with legal consultants during a nationwide oil consultation.
Liberia’s Justice Minister, Benedict Sannoh, revealed Wednesday at a press conference in Monrovia that the deceased was born in the United States as Mr. Maurice Denzel Bryce, Jr., but later issued a US Passport under a new name as Mr. Nkrumah Moziah Nadir Mulmi.
Speculations grew in the public here over his sudden death, with claims that there may have been foul play because the deceased had linked some lawmakers, including Speaker Tyler to a scandal that was being investigated by the Liberia Anti-Corruption Commission.
But conclusions contained in the two autopsy reports by the foreign pathologists have left the Liberian Government to trash all of the speculations reported in the media as the investigation did not uncover any evidence of foul play or that the death was induced by the conduct of another person or instrumentality.
The government termed as “irresponsible journalism, pregnant with lies, innuendoes and false accusations,” claims against those perceived to have been responsible for the death of the lawyer, saying there will be no charges against anyone because nobody was implicated over the death of Attorney Allison.
Minister Sannoh told a press conference on Capitol Hill in Monrovia Wednesday, March 18, 2015 that the investigation did not uncover any evidence of foul play.
“Not having established that anyone was implicated in the death of the deceased or contributed to the death, there will be no charges or prosecutions. This investigation for all intents and purpose is now closed,” the Attorney General of Liberia said.
On Thursday, February 12, 2015 at about 7pm, he said the police were informed of the incident of the 48 years old alleged to be a Liberian, lying on South Beach within the vicinity of 5th Street, Sinkor, Monrovia, wearing a swimming trunk.
He said the deceased’s body was covered with particles of sand, foaming from his nose and mouth, and eyes reddish, but there were no physical injuries or lacerations or cuts observed on the body, when police homocide investigators responded to the incident scene.
He said the Liberia National Police, due to the prevailing Ebola regulations on the removal and transport of dead bodies, could not take the body immediately from the scene for preservation pursuant to and adherence to Ebola preventive measures; thus, it remained on the beach until the next morning, covered with cloth.
On February 13, the next day, he said, the LNP and the Forensic team returned to the incident scene, and after obtaining clearance, took the body to the Samuel Stryker Funeral Home where it was re-examined by the LNP Forensic team, and observed to have some superficial wounds on the right lower ear lobes, upper right neck, right eye brow, left hip and the left ring and middle fingers.
Cllr. Sannoh said these may have been caused by creeping insects since the body had to sleep on the beach until the police could obtain permission to remove it the next morning.
He said the LNP interviewed over 20 eyewitnesses, including the deceased’s fiancée and a Brazilian national, who had rescued the victim from the water and brought him on shore, as well as some members of the Legislature, who were called to the scene and had earlier seen the victim on the evening of the incident.
Based on the investigations conducted thus far, Mr. Sannoh said the facts indicate that the deceased on the fateful day, February 12, 2015 left his 12th Street residence along with his fiancée, and decided to take stroll along the beach.
At some point, he said the deceased decided to take a bath in the water, following which he took off his clothes and walked into the sea, where information gathered indicate that the forces of the water may have overwhelmed him and he began to drift further into the sea.
The Minister added that it was due to the yelling of his fiancée that a Brazilian national, who was living in the vicinity of the incident, jumped into the water with a floater and managed to pull the deceased from the water.
On February 16, 2015, the LNP contracted the services of one Dr, Simeon Owizz Koroma, a Pathologist with a Sierra Leone nationality, to conduct a post-morten examination on the deceased with the view to ascertaining the cause of death.
After a comprehensive internal and external examination was conducted on the body, the Attorney General said Dr. Owizz concluded that the cause of death was drowning and that in his professional and expert opinion, the cause of death was natural.
Additionally, Mr. Sannoh said an American Pathologist, Dr. Carl Wigren, MD, was requested to perform the second autopsy on March 10, 2015 at the John F. Kennedy Medical Center, which he said concluded that the death of the 48 years old male was as a result of asphyxia due to salt water drowning.
He said the pathologist reported that cutaneous or skin defects involving eye lids, neck, ears, and hip were not the result of blunt force injury, but instead were due to animal predation following death.
He concluded that the manner of accident was consistent with accident. Meanwhile, Minister Sannoh has called on people, who he said were claiming to be relatives of the deceased, to now come up and claim the body, subject to a DNA test to establish relationship.
“In the beginning of this process, some people came forward claiming to be relatives of Mr. Allison. We encourage them to come forward now that the investigation has been concluded so that they can claim the body of their loved one and undertake the necessary funeral arrangements, subject only to a DNA test to establish their relationship,” the Minister concluded.
By Winston W. Parley