- Published on Monday, 08 October 2012 13:42
- Written by Sam Zota, Jr.
The families of the four cadets of the Liberia Maritime Authority (LMA) who recently died in the Atlantic Ocean are demanding what they termed “justice.” However, The Maritime Authority has dismissed suspicion of foul play, saying that the four recruits were adults and what they did with their private time away from the required schedule was their prerogative and not subject to authorization or supervision by the Liberia Maritime Authority.
Maritime said no part of the training called for swimming due to lack of trained lifeguards and other safety measures. It stressed that unless these measures were put in place; swimming was prohibited completely from the training.
The four cadets, all men, identified as J. Eddie Wilson, George K. Reed, Patrick M. Ansumana and Henry D. Bryant went missing at sea on last Thursday at the Musa Beach in Paynesville and few days later found dead when the sea washed ashore their remains.
The families’ spokesperson, Charleson Ansumana, brother of the late Patrick Ansumana told a press conference over the weekend that the manner in which the death of their children and relatives was being handled by the LMA, they are beginning to raise suspicions about their death.
Mr. Ansumana said since the death of their sons, they have been quiet in anticipation that circumstances surrounding their death would be handled with care and investigation be transparently conducted to determine the cause of their death.
But he said instead of that, authorities of Maritime have declared that the men were dismissed from the usual training hours before the incident was reported.
“Since the incident occurred we have not come as family to issue press statement or held press conference, because we were trying as family to plan and see how we can strategize and to seek the face of God for direction; but we have been compelled and pushed by the Maritime Authority and the Government of Liberia….Maritime has been holding press conferences and issuing press releases since the incident occurred and statements made today by the Deputy Information Minister that the families were putting on political face,” Ansumana said.
The families indicated that preliminary information gathered surrounding the death of their four sons continues to raise more questions than answers.
The families said they were also constrained to speak on the matter based on recent statement by the LMA that the four men were not under their (LMA) supervision at the time of their death. “Our suspicion is that, if Maritime claimed that the men were not under their supervision, why is it that Maritime has to deploy security as early as 4:00 am to barricade the beach waiting for the arrival of the dead…and where are the other survivals?... because if four die out of eleven persons, the remaining persons should come to tell the story in order to clear the air…” the families’ spokesperson said.
They said they have already hired the services of Cllr. Alfred Brownell of the Green Advocate for legal advice.
The four cadets were part of an elite team of 13 members recruited out of more than 160 persons for Search and Rescue Program of the LMA.
They have been preparing for advanced training overseas since August.
Cllr. Brownell said investigation conducted so far in the death of the four cadets shows the beach training was regularly part of procedure carried out by the men under the direct supervision of the LMA.
“It is clear that the Bureau has exposed these people to serious risk and not only was their action negligence but it was reckless and they must step up to the responsibility and admit this…and this is what this family is pursuing and for us at Green Advocate have pledged, not only our legal support, but our advocacy support to ensure that there will be an outcome of justice so that the facts can come out…” the Green Advocate Lead Campaigner said.
He said it was an insult to the deceased families for anyone to claim that the men were going about their personal joyous time before the incident occurred.
An LMA release recently issued said the preparation included physical exercises from 7:00 am to 9 am at the Samuel K. Doe Complex from Monday to Friday and Academic work from 4pm to 6pm at the headquarters of the Liberia Maritime Authority.
Maritime Authorities narrated that at about 10am on Thursday, they received the news via cell phone, that eleven of their cadets, after being dismissed from their physical exercises by their team leader and supervisor, visited Musa Beach in Paynesville on the ELWA-Robertsfield highway and that four of them were feared drowned.
According to the authorities, the Liberia National Coast Guard was contacted and deployed to the scene to carry out search and rescue efforts, in collaboration with the Liberia Maritime Authority.