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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

LIBERIAN GOVERNMENT SPEAKS ON RECENT PROTEST BY FAMILIES OF THREE MISSING MEN

Date:

Justice Minister, Frank Musa Dean

LIBERIA – The Government of Liberia, through the Ministry of Justice, takes cognizance of a recent protest action in Monrovia by family members of three boys who allegedly drowned in Bong County while returning from performing a contract in October 2020. They were said to have been hired by Mr. Moses H. Ahossouhe and Mr. Abraham S. Samuels.

During their protest earlier this month, the boys’ relatives falsely claimed that the authorities at the Ministry of Justice had paid little heed to investigate what happened to their sons – Robert M. Blamo, Jr, Siafa Gbana Boimah, and Bobby S. Gbeanquoi.

Justice Minister Frank Musah Dean Jr vehemently rejects these assertions, as he narrates the measures that have been taken by the Liberian Justice system.

When the incident occurred, he said, the Liberia National Police first constituted an investigative panel following news that the canoe the boys were traveling in had capsized. A thorough search was conducted in the area during which a set of remains was discovered on the river bank.  The Police Investigation Panel recommended a DNA examination to determine whether the remains were those of any one of the three missing boys, but the families rejected the police request saying they believed then (and still do), that the boys are alive.

To satisfy the families’ request for an ” independent investigation,” the Minister of Justice ordered on Sept 5, 2022, the constitution of the second panel of investigators. The Panel comprised representatives of various security agencies, the Inter-religious Council, and Civil Society, including the Association of Female Lawyers of Liberia.

The second panel presented its report to the Minister recommending several measures, including DNA analyses of the remains found during the search of the boys. In this regard, the Attorney General wrote the families of the missing boys requesting their mothers to provide DNA specimens.  However, the families again refused, contending that their relatives (the boys) are alive and to provide specimens for any such test(s) would be to concede that they are dead.

This has been the impasse, the Justice Minister has said.

The government, through the Ministry of Justice, wishes to emphasize that it remains committed to the investigation, through scientific and evidence-based processes, and calls on the families to coorporate.

The Attorney General wants to make it categorically clear that neither he nor the Government of Liberia has any interest in shielding anyone. He said if the families want closure to this matter, the onus is on them to fully cooperate with the investigators. The Report of the second Investigative Panel is available for the families to peruse, a statement signed by Information Minister Ledgerhood J. Rennie said.

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