On the week leading up to Armistice day – a time we remember and pay respect to men and women in our armed forces who have died in the line of duty, I was disgusted to hear of the horrible mix-up with th body of Christopher Alder, whose body was discovered 11 years after his family thought they had buried him.
If you remember, 37 year-old Christopher was the former para-trooper who choked to death in police custody while handcuffed and lying on the floor while five officers stood over him mocking him and making monkey noises, at a Hull police station in 1998. The five officers who were accused of manslaughter and misconduct in public office were cleared of all charges. As expected in Britain when police officers are charged with the death of a member of the public, they are never brought to justice. Eventually after siting stress related illness, they left the police force with handsome payments and a full pension
Imagine the horror his family must have felt after years of fighting for justice to find out that the body they buried was not his. It all came to light last Friday when friends and family of Grace Kamara, a Nigerian widow who died in her 60′s in 1999, arrived at the mortuary to collect her body for burial. It appears that a series of circumstances prevented her from being buried earlier. I’m not clear why it took so long for her to be buried, but I’ve read everything from her family in Nigeria being denied visa’s to enter Britain to the authorities hesitance to release the body.
The funeral was finally set for last Friday, when a friend insisted on seeing the body. At first they were told it wouldn’t be possible and warned about the condition of Graces body after being deep freezed for over a decade.
A while later they were told that Graces body could not be found and when it was located, it was at the morgue in a different hospital in Hull. Her friend insisted on seeing the body they found and it was only then, she was told it wasn’t Graces body, but the body of Christopher Alder.
I can’t imagine what Janet Alder and her family who have fought for over a decade, for justice for her brother as well as others who have died in police custody, must be going through. Her brother having died in a most degrading undignified manner has not even been afforded dignity in death by this almighty cock-up.
Even more disturbing is that they are not sure who they buried. Authorities say they are not certain if it was the body of Grace Kamara and have requested permission from the Alder family to exhume the grave, which is not as straight forward as you would think, because Christopher’s 25 yr-old niece’s ashes, were scattered over his grave.
There is no amount of monetary compensation or apologies that could make up for their continuing pain and loss that began over a decade ago when he was killed.
Christopher Alder was not a criminal. He was a Falkland war veteran, just another fella out for a night of clubbing when he was punched in the head during an argument and was transported to hospital where staff say he became hostile, maybe as a result from his head injury. But as is the case many times in the UK when a Black person raises their voice or displays anger, whites sometimes get alarmed and determine our behaviour is suspect, which leads to arrests and in some cases we are carted off to a mental health unit of the nearest hospital.
This Remembrance day, it’s not only fallen soldiers, sailors and airmen in my thoughts, it is the many who have suffered injustice and the thousands who continue to.
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