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Liberia’s Defense Minister Charged in Ritual Murder

July 8, 1989

MONROVIA, Liberia (AP) _ Liberia’s defense minister, his wife and seven other people have been accused of slaying a young policeman and using his heart and other organs in black magic rituals.

The case against Maj. Gen. Gray Allison, his wife, Angeline, and the others was outlined in a three-page statement issued Friday by the justice minister of this West African nation, Jenkins Scott.

Allison was under house arrest and his wife was said to be in detention and cooperating with authorities.

Scott said all would be formally charged with murder, with the defense minister to be tried on an unspecified date before a court-martial.

Allison, defense minister since 1982, also had been serving as chairman of the executive board of the country’s Joint Chiefs of Security.

President Samuel Doe called the case ″a sinful act.″

In his statement, Scott said Allison and his wife planned the murder in a series of meetings with the other defendants between March 28 and 30.

Allison ″and his wife asked the persons present to provide him a person to be murdered and parts extracted to be used as sacrifice in rituals intended to promote his own selfish and greedy desire,″ the statement alleged.

″Following the said meetings, one of the suspects, Lt. Col. Joe Leesolee, pursuant to the plan and the discussion held with the Allisons, made available the living body of Patrolman Melvin Pyne, to be murdered and parts extracted therefrom, in satisfaction of the general’s and his wife’s request.″

Pyne’s beheaded body was found in early April on a railroad track near the general’s home. Police said at the time he had been the victim of a ritual murder, with his death made to appear as if he had been struck by a train.

Asked the motive behind the murder, Scott told reporters, ″The motive is not important because we do not prosecute on motive.″

The justice minister said six or seven people had admitted their involvement in the slaying, but he refused to name anyone other than the Allisons and Leesolee.

Ritual murders are reported several times a year in West and Central Africa.

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