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Wednesday, June 12, 2024

Liberia: STAND Wants Unexplained Deaths In Security Sector Probed

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Liberia’s civil Society group STAND has issued a statement Urging government to Investigate the sudden death of army Sergeant Bobby Manneh  and  to  reopens the three-year-old casing surrounding the reported killing of agent Melvin Early. The group classified those cases as homicide and not suicide as official records may suggest.

Below is the full statement:

Liberia’s leading civil society Movement, Solidarity and Trust for a New Day ( STAND) mourns the tragic death of AFL Sergeant Bobby Manneh, and extends heartfelt sympathy to the families of the bereaved.

This shocking death  of Sergeant Manneh was revealed in a statement released by the Armed Forces of Liberia’s (AFL) Public Affairs office that the tragic  incident occurred on Thursday, May 30, 2024 at approximately 10:45 PM while Sgt Manneh was on guard duty at the Edward Binyah Kesselly Barracks in Schiefflin, Lower Margibi County.

In the details that followed, the AFL released claims that Army Sergeant Manneh “Took his own life while on guidepost”, firing several bullets into his own head.

The AFL statement claimed that it notified the Liberia National Police (LNP), which immediately dispatched officers from the Homicide Division to the scene. In the same statement, the AFL concluded that the death of Sergeant Manneh was caused by suicide.

This conclusion, reached by the AFL high command, raises several questions, pertinent among them are the following:

  1. Did the AFL high command rely on the outcome of a forensic investigation from its own Military Police unit before concluding that Sergeant Manneh died by suicide?The Liberian army, being a professional institution with a Military Police unit , with responsibility for  maintaining law enforcement  and discipline within the military, is expected to have carried out a preliminary investigation of the incident. This would have  provided the basis for any early assumption for cause of death.
  2. Role of the Liberian National Police (LNP): Now that the Homicide Division of the Liberia National Police has been invited to investigate Sgt Manneh’s death, does this suggest that the LNP is the lead investigator, or are they simply assisting the investigation?
  3. Weapon and Eyewitnesses: During Sergeant Manneh’s duty on the night of the incident, was he assigned a weapon? If so, what weapon was he assigned, and which of his army colleagues served with him that night? Were there any eyewitnesses to his alleged suicide?
  4. Injury Analysis: How many “self-inflicted” gunshot injuries did he suffered and what is the pattern of  projectiles  on his body? Are there visible upper or lower extremity injuries?
  5. Sergeant Manneh’s History: According to the AFL high command, Sergeant Manneh’s military characteristics and history were impeccable and in accordance with high military standards without any kind of psychosocial  abnormalities showing suicidal behavior.  . However, apart from his professional service records, which would make suicide surprising, has he ever attempted to harm himself or commit suicide before?

These questions are crucial to understanding the circumstances of Sergeant Manneh’s death and ensuring a thorough and transparent investigation.

While STAND seeks prompt answers, the organization urges the Boakai administration to authorize or support a swift and impartial investigation to ensure justice and strengthen public confidence in the nation’s troubled justice system.

Subsequently, His Excellency President Boakai is encouraged to prioritize a credible investigation, which is further reinforced by the diverse narratives already circulating in the public square.

For instance, in  the larger public domain, news and circumstances surrounding the alleged suicide of Sergeant Manneh have created an atmosphere of stunned disbelief among Liberians, particularly the improbable narrative that Sergeant Bobby Manneh shot himself in the head six times before his death.

STAND notes that this is not unique to the Army, regardless of which administration is running the country.  In 2021, a trained and professional  Executive Protection Service (EPS) Agent Melvin Early was reported by Law Enforcement to have ‘Shot himself in the head three (3) times and died  in Tappita, Nimba County.  This kind of reported suicide death  reflects a pattern of a probable dangerous  subculture  operating within the Liberian security apparatus, outside official corridors.

Therefore, the AFL’s claim of suicidal death of a professional and patriotic soldier, gives cause for alarm. In the Melvin Early case,  upon seeing the dead body of this patriot, the deceased’s family rejected the Liberian  government’s suicide claims, offering an entirely different narrative that Mr. Earley was allegedly shot in the abdomen, chest, and head, contrary to government information sources.

Like the previous administration, which stands accused of failure to conduct a transparent and credible investigation into the death of EPS Agent Melvin Earley, the current administration risks similar accusations if it fails to ensure a credible, transparent, and unbiased investigation into the tragic death of Sergeant Bobby Manneh.

Subsequently, STAND calls on the Liberia National Police to reopen the Melvin Earley case file to conduct a more thorough, transparent, and unbiased investigation into the claims and counterclaims surrounding the EPS agent’s death. This request is particularly pertinent given the swirling controversies surrounding Sergeant Bobby Manneh’s death, which shares many similarities with the death of Agent Melvin Earley.

Additionally, research conducted by STAND indicates that experts in such cases note that multiple gunshot wounds to the head are typically indicative of homicide rather than suicide. Law enforcement and forensic experts generally regard multiple head wounds with suspicion, and such circumstances warrant a thorough investigation to rule out foul play.

Given this background, STAND believes the death of Sergeant Bobby Manneh should be treated as a homicide, not a suicide.

 

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