The New Dawn (Monrovia)

12 December 2012

Liberia: Tension in Lofa Over Police Officer's Death

The death of police officer G. Wilson Veseelee in Lofa County has reportedly sparked serious tension between the police and family members of the deceased with the latter holding the police authorities responsible.

The police have however denied the claim and maintained that the late Officer Veseelee, who was tortured, died in the hands of his family.

Police spokesman Sam Collins has distanced the police involvement in the death of the police officer. The late Officer Vesselee was reportedly tortured to death in Lofa by his colleagues through the order of the police Chief of Operations in Voinjama only identified as Bangalee.

Sam Collins confirmed the incident, but denied that the deceased died in the police custody as it was reported by the New Dawn.

He explained that the late officer Vesselee was taken to sick bush by his family to cure his broken foot where he allegedly died, not in the hands of the police.

He said investigation is currently ongoing in the matter, adding, "A team has been dispatched to Lofa County to do a thorough investigation into the matter." But family members have rubbished the police's claim that Vesselee died in their hands.

The sister of the deceased, Evon Vesselee, told this paper that on the contrary, the police in Lofa County took the late Vesselee from the cell to the sick bush before subsequently taken him at the Tellewoyan Hospital in Voinjama in a police pickup.

Evon narrated that due to the seriousness of the illness of her brother in the sick bush, the police rushed him at the hospital in their vehicle for treatment, but before their arrival there, her brother was already dead as confirmed by nurses that on duty.

According to her, the police wanted to bury the late officer Veseelee like a criminal. She noted that after the news spread in Lofa County like a wildfire, the family in Bong County got the news, adding all family members, including his mother are in Bong County.

"He was only assigned in Lofa County as a policeman. The police should not lie that our brother died in our hands; if this were so, why are the police keeping the body from us?", she asked.

Meanwhile, Chief of Operations Bangalee has been brought to Gbarnga, Bong County and held in detention, awaiting investigation. But the sister of the deceased Evon Vesselee told the New Dawn that the suspect is not in the cell; he is allegedly out in Gbarnga moving around with two men assigned to him.

Officers at the Gbarnga Police Detachment, who did not want to be name, confided in this paper that it is true Bangalee did order the flogging of Officer Vesselee, which led to his death.

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