Written by Peter N. Toby
A woman who returned home recently from the United States after hearing that her husband had died, fainted in court yesterday when she was told that she had no claim to the man's body.
Relatives rushed Mrs. Ruth Kroko-Gaie to a local clinic after she was seen vomiting with profuse fluids.
The case went to the court after a hectic controversy erupted between Mrs Gaie and the children of Professor Thomas K. Gaie, the Liberian Chairman of the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) who died Nov 15 after a short illness.
Two elder children have prevented Mrs. Ruth Kroko-Gaie, their father's divorced wife, who returned home from the United States recently following Mr Gaie's death on Nov 15, from taking part in his funeral rites.
The children informed Mrs Gaie that their father had divorced her since 7 Sept 2012, and therefore, she had no claim over his body.
Mrs Gaie rushed to the Civil Law Court asking for a declaratory judgment against the children, contending that she has legitimate rights over her husband's body.
Mrs Gaie said she joined holy matrimony with the late Thomas K. Gaie in 1978 in the City of Monrovia.
Since then, she said, they had lived together peacefully over the years without any problem up to the time of his death.
Prior to the death of Prof. Gaie, she said, they have been the best of good friends, always maintaining a smooth line of communication. She said legally she was the only legitimate wife of the deceased.
She argued that being the widow of the late Thomas K. Gaie, she has the legal right over his body and the action of Ernest Gaie and Lamine Gaie, among others, grossly violates her marital right as the widow.
Countering the claim, the children denied the legal and factual sufficiency of her petition.
Although they admitted that their late father married her in 1978, they contended that he divorced her on 7 September 2012 at the 11th Judicial Circuit Court in Bomi County.
They further said that on 14 November 2012, a day before the death of their father, she wrote an e-mail to her (Co-Respondent Ernest Gaie), in which she acknowledged that she was aware of the divorce proceeding.
After hearing two sides of the case, the presiding judge Yussif Kaba upheld the contention of the children, saying that records from the Tubmanburg Court showed that the children's father divorced the woman on 7 September 2012.
The judge lifted an application for the right of injunction, prompting the woman to faint with profuse fluid coming out of her mouth.
The court's ruling was hailed by representatives of WAEC who appeared eager to bury their former boss.
Judge Kaba said the Bill of Divorcement that was granted by the 11th Judicial Circuit Court in Bomi County on 7 September 2012 was clear evidence to dismiss Mrs. Kroko-Gaie's claim over her dead husband.
"This Bill of Divorcement issued by presiding Judge Geevon Smith of the 11th Judicial Circuit Court of Bomi County on 7 September 2012 cannot be revolted because both courts have the same Jurisdiction. Moreover, this Court cannot over rule any decision from that Court in keeping with law,"he stressed.
Meanwhile, Mrs. Gaie, through her lawyers, has filed an appeal to the Supreme Court against the judge's ruling, just three days to burial ceremony of Prof Gaie in Monrovia. But it remains unclear whether, in spite of Mrs Gaie's appeal before the Supreme Court, the burial scheduled for this Thursday will take place.