A coroner’s inquest set last year to look into the death of the late Alima Sheriff ended on Friday July 12, 2008 at the Magistrate court in Kenema, with a verdict of death by natural causes.
A total of seven witnesses testified at the inquest, including one Sedie Sheriff, Julius Kamara father of the deceased, Mohamed I. Basma “Amuday,” Dr. Rogers of the government hospital in Kenema, a nurse from the government hospital, Dr. Simeon Owizz Koroma government Chief Forensic Pathologist and Yasmin Salia Jusu Sheriff a member of the Sierra Leone Human Rights Commission.
The Jurors returned with a unanimous verdict of death by natural causes as per the findings contained in the Autopsy report submitted by Dr. Simeon Owizz Koroma consultant Pathologist /Manager Laboratory services and lecturer in Pathological Sciences at COMAHS, University of Sierra Leone.
He described the Pathological cause(s) of death as (1a) Diabetic coma due to (1b) Diabetic Ketoacidosis as a consequence of (1c) Diabetes mellitus (2) Diabetic nephropathy (3) Intussusceptions (4) Aspiration heamorrhagic pheumonitis due to (5) Regurgitation of vomitus.
“The history indicates that this 18years old very pale female with puffy eyes went into coma, admitted and treated accordingly without response at the Kenema government hospital and died at 2am on 22/10/07. Post mortem blood tests in Freetown at the Connaught hospital (Teaching) showed elevated plasma glucose. At autopsy, there were Pre-existing disease processes/ conditions (Diabetes mellitus, Pancreatic disease and nephropathy) to cause her to collapse suddenly or to cause or accelerate her death on the morning of 22/10/07. The text of the Autopsy report documents the observed Pathological findings.”
Dr Owizz stated at the end of his report that “In my opinion, the cause of death was natural.”
The two Ghanaian consultants Professor Edwin Kwame Wiredu Consultant histopathologist and Forensic Pathologist and Dr. Robert Kumoji, specialist in Histopathology from University of Ghana medical school department of Pathology were drafted in to give a second and third opinion given the unnecessary aspersions cast on Dr Owizz Koroma’s findings.
Dr Robert Kumoji who was led in his evidence in chief by Senior State Council East Timothy Momoh Sowa described the causes of death as (1a) Diabetic coma due to (1b) Diabetic Ketoacidosis as a consequence of (1c) Diabetes mellitus (2) Diabetic Nephropathy (3) Intussusceptions (4) Aspiration heamorrhagic pneumonitis due to
(5) Regurgitation of vomitus.
The third autopsy report was also tendered in court by Yasmin Jusu Sheriff on behalf of the Sierra Leone Human Right Commission who secured the services of the two Ghanaian consultants which also described the causes of death as (1a) Diabetic Ketoacidosis due to (1b) Diabetes mellitus due to (1c) Severe non-obstructive chronic pancreatitis.
In his comments he stated that the deceased’s pancreas both grossly and histologically, showed evidence of severe idiopathic non-obstructive chronic pancreatitis. This type of pancreatitis is a known cause of diabetes mellitus. The development of diabetes in the deceased is supported by the finding in the liver and the Pathological findings are in keeping with reported clinical findings made shortly before death. The chronic pancreatitis most probably explains the deceased’s recurrent complaints of heartburn during life.
An application was thereafter made by the Senior State Council East Timothy Momoh Sowa for the body of the deceased Alima Sheriff Kamara who died at 2am on 22/10/07 at the Kenema government hospital to be handed over to the relatives for burial.
The application was granted by the coroner Magistrate Tonia Mbawa.
Lawyer Charles Francis Margai and Abdulai M. Bangura represented the interest of Mohamed I. Basma while the state was represented by Oladipo Robin-Mason acting Director of Public Prosecution and Senior State Council Timothy Momoh Sowa.
There was massive jubilation by the supporters, friends and relatives of Mohamed I. Basma the leading suspect while the parents of the deceased Mr. and Mrs. Julius Kamara were conspicuously absent from court.
By Saffa Moriba in Kenema