Warning: The following article contains graphic details of a violent criminal act.
At first sight one is tempted to think of yet another case of ritual murder in Liberia, as the article reads: ‘(…) the mutilated body of little Saah Momo was discovered in the home of his grandfather in Bomi County.’ It occurred early this year, in January.
It is known that in a large number of ritual murder cases relatives are involved – as traditionally this is part of the ritual to create or obtain ‘juju’, the spiritual power which perpetrators seek to increase their wealth, power or social prestige. However, it is not plainly stated by the police and in the article – as it is often the case – that this is about a ritual killing. In Liberia, police and journalists don’t mince their words when reporting on ritual murder cases.
The Liberian National Police arrested six persons in connection with the violent death of the 2-year old boy, Saah Momo, including the mother and an uncle of the victim. The deceased’s uncle testified in court that he had murdered his nephew upon the order of the child’s mother. Allegedly, she was motivated to have her son murdered for financial gains: she wanted to sell his organs. It has not been revealed with whom the suspects wished to trade body parts with.
Was the violent death of little Saah Momo a case of organ trafficking or another case of ritualistic murder?
Some countries in the region, e.g. Nigeria, are notorious for murders committed by criminals who wish to harvest human organs in order to sell them – albeit for ritualistic purposes to superstitious people who believe that in this way, with ‘juju’, they can increase their wealth, success in business or in politics. These murders in Nigeria and Ghana are often committed by so-called Yahoo Boys and the criminal acts are locally known as ‘money rituals’.
In Liberia, murder cases for purposes of organ trafficking are far less widespread but since – by definition – these dark activities take place in secret, we don’t know on what scale they happen.
In short, the article is not clear whether the murder of little Saah Momo was a case of ritualistic murder or of organ trafficking. However, in both cases there is a clear ritualistic component as organ trafficking is not carried out with the purpose of organ transplantation, aiming to improve a patient’s health, but to sell organs to superstitious people and ‘juju’ men who wish to use human body parts for ritualistic purposes.
Liberia: Two Convicted for butchering a 2-year-old boy in Bomi County
Published: May 23, 2023
By: Rachel T. Saykiamien – The Daily Observer, Liberia
Jurors at the 11th Judicial Circuit Court in Bomi County have brought down a unanimous guilty verdict against two men who brutally murdered a two-year-old boy, Saah Momo, in Zealey, Dowein District, Bomi County.
The verdict followed a final argument in court by both prosecution and defense lawyers on May 23, 2023.
Defendants Momo Gray, the uncle of the deceased child, and his brother and father of the child,, Siafa Gray, were found guilty of murder; a first-degree felony under the law. In February of this year, the two were indicted by the grand jury of Bomi County for their involvement in the murder of Saah Momo.
On May 10, Momo Gray, the accused uncle of the two-year-boy, pleaded guilty to the crime of murder after his appearance at the 11th Judicial Circuit Court, while the father of the boy, Siaffa Gray, pleaded not guilty.
From the beginning, several individuals, including the mother and grandparents, were arrested but released after it was established that they had no hand in the act. However, the uncle and father, who played a major role in butchering the boy, were charged and tried in court.
On May 23, 2023, defendants Momo Gray and Siafa Gray were found guilty of murder; a crime that contravenes Chapter 14 Subchapter 14.1 of the penal code law of Liberia. Under the law, a person who is convicted of such a crime may be sentenced to death or life imprisonment.
A pre- sentencing hearing is expected to take place before the defendants are convicted.
Judge T. Ciapha Carey has ordered the clerk of the court to inform the probation officer of the Ministry of Justice to investigate the lives of the defendant’s prior to the incident. This is done to ascertain if the defendants were law abiding citizens or had stayed out of trouble prior to the crime.
In January, the mutilated body of little Saah Momo was discovered in the home of his grandfather in Bomi County. The Liberia National Police (LNP) arrested the deceased’s uncle and five other persons in connection to the death of the child.
Those arrested were Momo Gray, Siaffa Gray, Cooper Ross, Satta Wonda, the mother of the deceased, and Omacy Nyei.
At the time, police established that all of the suspects committed the act for financial gain and were subsequently brought to the headquarters of the Liberia National Police to be questioned. But the police failed to state whether their investigation discovered who these suspects were trading body parts with. However, four people, including the deceased’s mother and grandparents, were set free.
Defendant Momo Gray, the uncle of the deceased, taking the witness stand and testifying on his behalf on May 19, admitted to murdering his nephew, but alleged that he acted upon the order of the child’s mother; whom he said was encouraged to have her son killed in order to sell the major organs for money due to hardship.