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11.03.2006 General News

Tussle in court over dead body

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Accra, March 11, GNA - An Accra High Court has restrained a businesswoman from proceeding with the funeral rites of her husband slated for Saturday, March 11, pending the determination of a writ filed by the family claiming the right to the body.

Mr E. K. Commey, 72, a former employee of the Ministry of Food and Agriculture, had bequeathed his body to the University of Ghana Medical School (UGMS) but the head of family of the deceased is contesting this in court saying customarily the body belongs to them.

In a suit filed by Madam Leticia Ayele Adams, head of family against Madam Dora Ama Dufie, wife of the deceased, and UGMS, the head of family is seeking an order of perpetual injunction restraining the woman from proceeding with funeral rites of her husband as advertised. They are further seeking an order compelling UGMS and the wife of the deceased to release the body of Mr Commey to the head of family for traditional burial rights to be performed. The family is also asking for costs.

The writ said Madam Dufie was commencing with the funeral rites on Saturday March 11, as such the court should grant an ex-parte motion for interlocutory injunction filed by Plaintiffs.

In an affidavit in support of the motion, the Madam Adams said Mr Commey died in January this year and since his death the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital Mortuary, which is under the supervision of the UGMS, had refused to release the body to the family for traditional burial rights to be performed.

The affidavit said UGMS claimed that the deceased requested before his death that his body should be donated to them and that he thumb-printed a document to that effect.

The Plaintiffs stated that in the custom of the deceased the body belonged to them after his death.

The writ said Madam Dufie had designed obituaries claiming that the entire family and wife of the late Mr Commey had fixed the date for the funeral to be held at Kwashiman in Accra. However, the family members of the deceased including all his adult children had not been informed of any such activities.

The writ said UGMS, therefore, invited the family to come to the hospital for a church service to be conducted for the deceased so that it could take possession the body in accordance with the form the deceased had filled at the School.

According to the plaintiff if the Court allowed the wife of the deceased to commence the funeral rite on Saturday, March 12, the present action would be prejudiced.