A Pathologist at the Ghana Police Hospital, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Dr. Osei Owusu-Afriyie has told the High Court in Accra that Ishmael Mensah Abdullah, a 10-year-old boy who was killed at Kasoa for alleged money rituals, was buried alive.
According to the Pathologist, at the time the deceased was being buried, he was not dead, and that the victim died from “severe head injury from blunt trauma.”
Dr Osei Owusu-Afriyie, who made this known to the High Court in Accra presided over by Justice Lydia Osei Marfo while testifying as the 7th Prosecution Witness, said the cause of death was “Asphyxiation (inability to breathe).”
He also explained that, when a person cannot breathe, the lungs get hyper-inflated and the body gets “blue” which was due to the premature burial following a blunt head injury.
Two teenagers – a 15-year-old juvenile and an 18-year-old young offender (both names withheld) have been charged with the death of Abdullah who is said to be their friend.
Though the 15-year-old admitted the offence while his plea was being taken, the court entered a not guilty plea for him instead as the law enjoins the court for the jury to determine the matter upon full trial.
But, the 18-year-old who together with the 15-year-old had been charged with conspiracy to commit murder, had denied the charges all along.
The Witness, while being led by Dorcas Felli, a Senior State Attorney (SSA) to give his Evidence-in-chief, said “I concluded that he had a severe head injury from blunt trauma.”
“My lady, the significant findings are massive swollen on the right side of the neck and right side of the head with fracture of the bones on the right side of the head, with blood and swelling over the right side of the brain. My lady, there were also hyper-inflated lungs and ‘blueing’ of the body.
“My lady, I concluded that he had severe head injury from blunt trauma.
“The ‘blueing’ of the body and hyper-inflated lungs suggest that at the time of placing him or burying him, he was not dead.
“My lady that is the significant findings of my report,” the Pathologist told the Criminal Division of the High Court in Accra presided over by Justice Lydia Osei Marfo.
The Pathologist had told the Court that he was stationed at the Ghana Police Hospital and had worked as a Pathologist for 19 years.
Dr Owusu-Afriyie told the Court that, he performed a post-mortem examination on the body of the late Ishmael Abdellah on April 13, 2021.
The Pathologist also told the Court that, after examining the body of Ishmael Abdullah, “I issued a comprehensive report on the findings of my examination.”
“This is a comprehensive post-mortem examination report authored by me on the body of the said deceased and duly signed on the 7th of May, 2021,” he identified before indicating to the court his intention to tender same in evidence.
With no objections from Counsel of 1st and 2nd Accused persons, Dr. Osei Owusu-Afriyie’s report dated May 7, 2021, was admitted in evidence.
Under cross-examination from Counsel for the 1st Accused, Samuel Atuah on whether per his (Witness) finding he was suggesting that the deceased was buried alive, the Witness pointed to unconsciousness.
“The deceased was unconscious which might been construed by a lay person as dead,” the Pathologist stated.
Asked by Counsel to assist the Court in finding out what caused the unconsciousness of the deceased, the Pathologist said there was severe head injury.
“Severe head injury secondary to blunt head trauma. The findings of the severe head injury include; massive external swelling on the right side of the head, fracture of the bones on the right side of the head, and bleeding with associated swelling of the brain on the right side of the brain,” Dr Owusu-Afriyie explained.
When it was put to him that, the deceased was not hit by any external object, the Witness disagreed saying “He was hit on the right side of the head and the right side of the neck by an object.”
He added that “an object to have caused fracture on one of the strongest bones in the body.
“The brain which is a soft organ is protected by the skull and it is designed to be strong to protect the weak brain.
“The trauma from whichever object should be severe enough to cause it to break,” he told the Court.
Asked by Counsel for the 1st Accused whether when somebody falls on the ground, that person can be affected by that, the Witness said that the fall must be severe.
“The fall must be severe. However, the lateralized nature of the injury without any associated injury to the upper limb does not suggest a fall,” he told the court.
Counsel of the 2nd Accused did not cross-examine the Pathologist who has since been discharged.
At this point, Prosecution closed its case after indicating to the court that would not be calling any more witnesses.
Prima Facie evidence
Justice Osei Marfo, following the conclusion of the Prosecution’s case, held that “it is my findings that a prima face case has been made out against the accused persons and I will call upon them to make a defence on the next adjourned date.
“This being so, the accused persons if they so desire, are hereby ordered to file and serve the prosecution with their witness statement.
EIB Network’s Legal Affairs Correspondent Murtala Inusah, reports that the court has directed the defence to file their witness statements on or before December 20, 2023.