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LETTER: Everybody counts, or nobody counts

Wednesday 5 October 2022 | Written by Supplied | Published in Letters to the Editor, Opinion

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LETTER: Everybody counts, or nobody counts

Dear Editor, We are now into the seventh year of the disappearance of Lissette Gonzalez Brito, a 44-year Venezuelan woman who lost her life at sea in August of 2016.

Brito was on board the Australian registered ketch Zangano skippered by her love -interest

Alexander Mackinnon Roehrs, when she mysteriously went overboard while sailing from American

Samoa to Rarotonga.

When the Zangano docked at the Avatiu Harbour, Rarotonga on Tuesday August 30 2016, Roehrs

reported his missing passenger to the Cook Islands authorities. The police immediately assumed

responsibility of the case and commenced their investigation, ensuring Roehrs remain on the island

for nearly four months while they followed up with investigation.

As your readers may recall, I have been following the progress of this state of affairs and have

written extensively about how I believe the Cook Islands justice system has not met its obligations in

getting to the truth of what happened to Lissette, six years ago.

My purpose in compiling this article is to remind those in power that sometime during 2023, the long awaited seven-year period for convening a Coronial Inquest is due.

I look forward to an open and full inquiry where witnesses are called and examined and where the police at last will report on their now ongoing seven-year investigation.

During the six years I have been gathering information on Lissette’s disappearance, I have gathered much valuable evidence, I believe will be helpful to the Coroner and look forward to presenting it.

As I have previously written, the real tragedy in the Lissette Brito case is that nobody ever tried to look for her.

Not the Cook Islands Police who took on the missing persons case and who are responsible for

maritime searches.

Not her husband to be and travelling companion, Alex Roehrs who was the skipper and owner of the

yacht Zangano when she disappeared overboard.

And astoundingly not even her immediate family in faraway Venezuela, South America.

No one!

The Cook Islands Police have never made public any of the facts regarding this disappearance, apart

from classifying Lissette as a missing person.

To add insult to injury they have blocked my attempts to gain access to their file and my quest for the truth.

Lissette’s case has to count. It can’t be forgotten or ignored.

Justice must not only be done. It must be seen to be done.

Rod Henderson

Cook Islands News has reached out to Cook Islands Police for comment.