Salone News

Hinga Norman’s Family Rejects Inquest Report

2 August 2007 at 16:14 | 313 views

For Public Release.

Indianapolis, Indiana, 26 July 2007

”In my opinion, Mr. Sam Hinga Norman died due to MEDICAL NEGLIGENCE AND THE FAILURE OF THE SPECIAL COURT TO PROVIDE THE ENABLING ENVIRONMENT I.E. PROPER MEDICAL FACILITIES FOR HIS TREATMENT” Albert Joe Demby, MD.

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SAMFORAY: On February 23, Special Court President Justice George Gelaga-King appointed Justice Renate Winter to head an inquiry to look into the circumstances of Mr. Norman’s death. On July 16, 2007, Justice Winter submitted that report to the President of the court. Below is my response as the family’s representative to Justice Winter’s report along with some of the evidence tendered but obviously not considered by Justice Winter in her inquiry.

First, let me make it very clear that the release of this report without first informing the family of Chief Norman who are the primary beneficiaries of the findings and whose cooperation the court sought and received in the course of the investigation is insensitive, unprofessional and in my opinion grossly unethical on the part of Justice Winter.

For the purpose of clarity, my response is in bold print and has been woven into the various points stated in the report. The Special Court report is in italics. I have also included relevant portions from the reports submitted to the court by former Vice President, Dr. Albert Joe Demby, who was the family’s representative present at the autopsy in Senegal as well as Chief Hinga Norman’s son, Mr. Mohamed Lansana Jawara, who was with Chief Norman from day of the surgery to the moment the Chief collapsed and died and was subsequently forced to leave the room by hospital staff.

JUSTICE WINTER: An independent autopsy found that he died of natural causes, and that his death was unrelated to the treatment, which he received.

SAMFORAY: We note that the facilities, the medical examiners and the timing of the autopsy were entirely chosen by the court without due regard to the family’s wishes to have one of their own medical examiners present. Dr. Albert Joe Demby was present at the autopsy only as a representative of the family not in his capacity as a physician. Neither did Dr. Demby participate in the procedure itself. As such, the autopsy cannot be honestly described by any reasonable person as “independent”. Furthermore, as we will show below, the treatment, which Chief Norman received or failed to receive and the deplorable facility where he was detained in Senegal were the direct cause of his death.

JUSTICE WINTER: 1. Mr. Norman died at L’Hopital Aristide Le Dantec on Thursday, 22 February, at around 11:00. He died in the presence of the Special Court’s Medical Officer and the Senegalese doctors and nurses who were called in to resuscitate him.

SAMFORAY: The hospital where Mr. Sam Hinga Norman was admitted and died was described by President Tejan Kabbah as “one of the most renowned hospitals in Senegal...” Ray Cardinal, Chief of Detention, described the hospital as a Military Hospital called De La DANTEC. According to Dr. Albert Demby, Mr. Mohamed Jawara and Mr. Sam Norman, Jr. as well as Chief Norman himself in an extemporaneous interview with the BBC brutally interrupted by special court staff, Chief Norman was never admitted to De La Dantec Hospital but to an old colonial teaching hospital called Aristede Le Dantec meant for the indigent and common prisoners. And where Mr. Norman was admitted “was a prison cell, not a hospital ward”.

Based on the above observations by family members present in Dakar, it is evident that either President Kabbah was grossly misinformed or he is being purposefully deceitful. Or both. In the case of Mr. Cardinal, it is inconceivable that he would not know the facilities where his own prisoner was being held. Obviously, he was lying about Mr. Norman’s status of detention in Dakar. Justice Winter, for her part, had a moral and professional obligation to find out and she apparently did not want to know the truth in this matter.

JUSTICE WINTER: 2. An autopsy with full pathological and toxicological examinations was conducted by independent pathologists. The findings of this inquiry confirmed that Mr. Norman died of natural causes from a myocardial infarction. There were no indications of violence, nor was poison found in his body.

SAMFORAY: According to Dr. Demby, “ No proper investigation was done prior to his (Chief Norman’s) hospitalization or after his collapse on 20 February.”

Chief Norman was given blood that was never typed to his own blood nor was it commensurate with his body size for quantity of blood he had already lost. Two of his ribs were fractured and he bled continuously for two weeks during post-operative care. Justice Winter requested and received the bloody beddings from Mr. Norman’s cell. As such, no serious inquest could have concluded that “Mr. Norman died of natural causes from a myocardial infarction” especially given Dr. Demby’s own conclusion that...”In my opinion, therefore, while I do still accept the autopsy findings, yet I do record here that Mr. Sam Hinga Norman died, due to MEDICAL NEGLIGENCE AND THE FAILURE OF THE SPECIAL COURT TO PROVIDE THE ENABLING ENVIRONMENT I.E. PROPER MEDICAL FACILITIES FOR HIS TREATMENT (HOSPITAL)” Or Mr. Jawara;s own conclusion that..."In my opinion, my father died due to MEDICAL NEGLIGENCE, THE DOCTORS AND SPECIAL COURT AUTHORITIES".

JUSTICE WINTER: 3. Security at the hospital was tight. Outside security was provided by Senegalese security officers, and inside by both Senegalese security officers and security officers from the Special Court.

SAMFORAY: Again, this is deceitful and purposefully misleading. The fact of the matter is that Chief Norman was held in a prison cell (called cubicle in Senegal) in a prison house within a hospital complex. This extraordinary security - three checkpoints before getting to Chief Norman - was the very reason why rescue staff was not able to assist him in time when he collapsed on February 22.

JUSTICE WINTER: 4. Allegations made by some media outlets and by Mr. Norman himself that he was being poisoned were completely unfounded.

SAMFORAY: Justice Winter had no way to know based strictly on a toxicological report performed entirely by the court’s own toxicologists at a sub-standard facility with any degree of medical certainty whether or not Mr. Norman was poisoned. There are indeed many drugs, which are essentially undetectable without extensive and expensive toxicological testing by highly trained toxicological personnel which the court did not have in Senegal.

JUSTICE WINTER: 5. Throughout his detention, Mr. Norman was treated by the Special Court’s Medical Officer. He arranged Mr. Norman’s treatment in accordance with the available advice of other medical specialists.

SAMFORAY: Again according to Dr. Demby, “The hospital was not ideal to handle such cases. If the hospital was ideal, then Mr. Norman was regarded as a prisoner or a detainee, hence kept in a cubicle (prison cell) without proper medical care.” Dr. Donald Harding, the court physician who accompanied Mr. Norman to Senegal was cold, callous, insensitive and entirely disengaged from Mr. Norman throughout the stay in Dakar. Harding who confirmed Chief Norman’s death to me assured me that he did every thing possible to save the Chief. I later found out that he was rarely around the two patients he had in Senegal. He ordered Norman’s son not to bother him and if Mr. Norman needed any thing, security or the duty supervisor will contact him. So when on two separate occasions Mr. Norman collapsed, Harding was not near him. He prevented Chief Norman to be taken to intensive care unit as advised by other doctors present after Chief Norman collapsed the second time in two days. Harding cited security reasons for his refusal. He played no pro-active role in Mr. Norman’s post operative therapy or the botched CPR on Mr. Norman that resulted in two broken ribs. Instead, some fellow named Osman was in charge of this. Dr. Harding’s only duty was to pronounce Chief Norman dead.

JUSTICE WINTER: 6. Registry staff responded quickly to Mr. Norman’s need for medical treatment, and ensured that adequate medical treatment was provided.

7. Mr. Norman had cardiac problems at the time of his arrival at the Court’s detention facility in 2003. Throughout his detention, the Special Court’s Medical Officer regularly checked Mr. Norman’s cardiac health.

SAMFORAY: This is perhaps the most ridiculous and self-indicting statement in this whole report. If the court’s physician was well aware that Mr. Norman had a chronic cardiac problem at the time of his arrest, why was he allowed to undergo a major surgery resulting in a significant loss of blood, which obviously culminated in heart failure apparently due to cardiac fatigue? What was the compelling reason to have the operation done at this time without solving the cardiac problem of which the court was well aware?

JUSTICE WINTER: 8. During his detention, Mr. Norman suffered from several other health problems which were immediately looked after. For any medical problem which required a specialised opinion, treatment was reviewed by specialists and regular check-ups were made.

SAMFORAY: The family is well equipped with Chief Norman’s medical records as well as other relevant information. We are not aware that at any time during Mr. Norman’s incarceration, he was seen by a specialist in cardiology or orthopedic medicine. Unless Justice Winter can provide such a record, this part of her report remains a falsehood calculated to deceive the public and the Hinga Norman family.

JUSTICE WINTER: 9. Mr. Norman refused the doctor’s advice to follow a healthier lifestyle. When asked a second time to do so he stated that he might be poisoned.

SAMFORAY: This is pure and undulated falsehood. Mr. Norman was a compulsive walker prior to his arrest. He was a moderate user of alcohol (mostly wine after meals) and never used tobacco in any form. He went to bed early and always woke up without the assistance of an alarm clock. The long hours he put in at the office - ten to twelve hour days - may have contributed to his moderate obesity. Otherwise, Mr. Norman had no destructive habits or negative life style that would have contributed to his death from myocardial infarction. As the court was already aware, Mr. Norman had a dislocated right hip, which severely restricted his physical mobility. This coupled with his age and the long period of incarceration may have resulted in undesired weight gain during the time he was at the Detention Center. The second part of this paragraph makes no sense.

JUSTICE WINTER: “In light of the above considerations, I find that proper care was taken by the Special Court for Sierra Leone in the furnishment and provision of medical care for the late Mr. Sam Hinga Norman during the entire time that he spent at the Special Court for Sierra Leone in Detention”, Justice Winter concluded.

She noted that, apart from Senegal, no country had volunteered to provide medical assistance to treat Mr. Norman’s hip problem. The Special Court therefore had no other option than to transfer Mr. Norman, with his consent, to L’Hopital Aristide le Dantec in Dakar.

SAMFORAY: This also is a gross misrepresentation of facts. The court on several occasions refused requests by Mr. Norman and his family to take him to a First World nation for the surgery. According to the courts information director, Peter Andersen, the court feared that once in the United Kingdom or United States, for instance, there was a real possibility for Mr. Norman or his supporters to seek asylum for him. Secondly, the court failed to inform the countries involved that unlike the AFRC and RUF indictees, there was no international travel ban on Chief Norman. The reason these countries refused to accept Chief Norman was that they feared violating the UN travel ban placed on the AFRC and RUF. Thus the notion that “the Special Court therefore had no other option than to transfer Mr. Norman, with his consent, to L’Hopital Aristide le Dantec in Dakar” is once again false and purposefully deceitful. It is also a lie that Chief Norman went to Senegal and L’Hopital Aristide le Dantec “with his consent”.

The president of Senegal has stated very clearly on Senegalese television that his government was not made fully aware of the full particulars of Chief Hinga Norman when Senegal accepted him and the RUF leader Hassan Issa Sesay. The special court essentially conned Senegal into accepting Chief Norman with the same status as the rebels and the Senegalese had no choice but to treat Chief Norman and Isa Sesay together as one and the same - common criminals. This is why the Senegalese were obliged to send a delegation to Chief Norman’s funeral and to express their sympathy to his family.

JUSTICE WINTER: “I, therefore, find no reason to believe that the concerned authorities of the Special Court for Sierra Leone have failed in providing the best possible medical treatment available”, Justice Winter said.

“Concerning the medical care provided at L’Hopital Aristide le Dantec, I find, taking into consideration the evaluation of the independent medical expert, that international standards in diagnosis and treatment have been upheld”.

SAMFORAY: Chief Hinga Norman’s eldest son was in Senegal following the death of his father. He identified the body and accompanied the corpse home following the autopsy. He presumably made visual and pictorial observations of the facilities where Chief Norman was held and died. I spoke to Chief Norman almost everyday while he was in Senegal. I was told much about the type of care Chief Norman was receiving. I made the public release of Chief Norman’s death prior to the special court release. The court was also fully informed that I was the family’s representative on the matter relating to the inquiry into the death of Chief Norman prior to the release of this report. Yet neither Sam Norman, Jr. nor I was asked to make a submission for the inquest. Nor were either of us or the family’s chief representative, Dr. Albert Joe Demby, informed of the outcome of the inquest apart from reading about it on the internet. We still have no official report from the court.

IT IS, THEREFORE, MY CONCLUSION THAT JUSTICE WINTER’S ANALYSIS AND CONCLUSIONS ARE INCREDIBLY SUPERFICIAL, PATENTLY SELF-SERVING AND GROSSLY UNREPRESENTATIVE OF THE FACTS OF THE MATTER. THIS REPORT ALSO GROSSLY UNDERMINES THE CREDIBILITY OF THE SPECIAL COURT FOR SIERRA LEONE AS WELL AS THE PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL INTEGRITY OF THE AUTHOR OF THIS REPORT.

Furthermore, the report serves only as a cover your behind exercise meant to placate donor nations who may ask why a court mandated to prosecute persons who bear the greatest responsibility for unlawful killings in Sierra Leone has essentially become a Killer Court in its own right. To wit, three of the leading defendants, Foday Sankoh, Gibril Massaquoi and Chief Hinga Norman and presumably Johnny Paul Koroma have either died while in the custody of the court or escaped justice without any determination of their guilt or innocence.

On behalf of the Hinga Norman family, I categorically reject this report as false, dishonest, speculative and unreliable for the purpose of establishing the true cause of the death of Chief Sam Hinga Norman. I would, however, like to inform all friends and supporters the Late Chief as well the general public that the Hinga Norman family continues to pursue all avenues including legal and other professional advice in order to preserve the legacy of Chief Norman and secure a just and honorable conclusion to this matter. Rest assured that the death of Chief Hinga Norman is not the end of his story. It is not even the beginning of the end. It is just the beginning.

Rev. Alfred Munda SamForay,

Representing the Hinga Norman Family

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