Autopsy on Corpses of Two Children “Failed” Due to Decay

MONROVIA, Montserrado – The head of a leading human rights group has described the autopsy of Alvin Moses and Ruben Paye as “failed” due to a decay of the bodies.

Adama Dempster, the founding national director and lead investigator of the Independent Human Right Investigators, said an autopsy commissioned by the government of Liberia through the Liberia National Police failed to take place on Friday, December 30 because the corpses of the children were decayed.

“It was a disappointment to realize that only the bones are left and there’s no way to identify the children,” Dempster said.

He said the Nigerian pathologist designated to carry out the autopsy informed family members, government representatives, and human rights and civil society groups that he could not administer the autopsy to the children because they had decayed to skeletons.

In an interview, Dempster said the Liberia National Police is expected to release a statement on the matter later this month based on the report that would be provided by the pathologist.

Moses and Paye, four and seven years old, respectively, were found dead on Dec. 3 in 2015 on the Roberts International Airport Highway in a vehicle belonging to their neighbor and Nigerian national, Henry Nandi, after they had gone missing on the day before.

Victor Moses, Alvin’s father, confirmed that the pathologist could not carry out the autopsy.

Moses told The Bush Chicken that the families declined to take the children’s bodies for burial after the police asked them on Friday.

“The police agreed to take the bodies back to the John F. Kennedy Memorial Hospital where they had it over the months,” he said. The bodies were taken to the St. Moses Funeral Parlor for the autopsy examination.

However, the LNP has refuted claims that the autopsy was not conducted. Police Spokesman Sam Collins, although not giving any detailed information concerning the autopsy, said the claims that the autopsy failed is untrue.

Victor Moses, father of Alvin Moses. Photo: Gbatemah Senah

Victor Moses, father of Alvin Moses. Photo: Gbatemah Senah

Collins had said in past interviews that the bodies of Moses and Paye were being properly preserved.

He also said the investigation involving the children is closed until the family or members of the public can provide evidence that will defeat the police findings.

The LNP had earlier concluded in a report that the two minors died of suffocation due to a lack of oxygen. Family members and advocacy groups, including the IHRI and Liberia National Children Representative Forum, on the basis that the report lacked medical reliance, rejected the report.

Recently, a group of child rights advocates called the Joint Action Committee on Children peacefully marched through the streets of Monrovia demanding justice for the death of Moses and Paye.

The group also presented a position statement asking the LNP to reopen the case involving the children’s death.

Nelson Freeman, the Commissioner of Police Operations, received the statement. He informed the protestors then that the police took their demands very seriously.

“I am very sure that in the soonest you would be called for a conference, whatever that needs to be discussed, will be discussed with you and it will be known to the Liberian people that we attached seriousness to this issue and we will assure you to do all in our powers to bring the perpetrators to justice if there are any,” he said.

Freeman said the LNP is committed to ensuring that the provision of equal access to protection is provided to all, and no officer is happy with any mysterious circumstances involving a child.

“We too are parents and we’re never going to be glad, we’re never going to be happy when we see the Liberian children, in their words, dying in mysterious circumstances,” Freeman said. “We are your parents, we are your grandparents. We’ve got kids and I am not going to be happy if I go home and see Saybah and Korpo are not home and I can’t find them.”

He promised that the police would prove itself beyond reproach and assured the children that the police are capable of handling the security of the state.

Featured photo courtesy of Michael Caroe Andersen

Gbatemah Senah

Senah is a graduate of the University of Liberia and a recipient of the Jonathan P. Hicks Scholarship for Mass Communications. Between 2017 and 2019, he won six excellent reporting awards from the Press Union of Liberia. They include a three-time Land Rights Reporter of the Year, one time Women's Rights Reporter of the Year, Legislative Reporter of the Year, and Human Rights Reporter of the Year.

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