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General News of Tuesday, 28 November 2006

Source: Daily Guide

Cocaine Suspects Freed

CHARGES AGAINST two persons, Kwabena Acheampong and Victor Kisseh, standing trial in connection with the 76 missing parcels, were yesterday reportedly dropped by the Attorney-General.

Only Kwabena Amaning, alias Tagor, and Alhaji Issah Abass faced fresh charges.

Even though the Chief State Attorney, Ms Gertrude Aikins did not withdraw the charges officially, relatives of Kwabena Acheampong left before the trial began and later told the reporters, the charges against him had been withdrawn.

R.S Blay, counsel for Victor Kisseh, alias Yaw Billa, who normally represented his client, was not present at the Fast-Track High Court, presided over by Mr. Justice Jones Dotse, where the accused persons are standing trial for the first time.

Counsel for Kwabena Acheampong, who arrived earlier, also left the courtroom with relatives of the accused before the trial began.

Tagor, the first accused person pleaded not guilty to four counts of conspiracy to commit crime, engaging in business relating to narcotic drugs, buying of 100 kilogrammes of narcotic drugs and supplying cocaine, a narcotic drug to a certain Mama Tess.

Alhaji Issah Abass, the second accused person also pleaded not guilty to two counts of engaging in business relating to narcotic drugs, and supplying 100 kilogrammes of cocaine, a narcotic drug.

Ms Gertrude Aikins, in her presentation of facts to the court said, the two accused persons were self-confessed drug barons, who undertook activities for the purpose of establishing and promoting various enterprises relating to narcotic drugs.

She said, the prosecution would lead evidence later in the trial to show that they purchased, supplied, credited and distributed drugs.

According to her, the MV Benjamin, aka Adade 2, anchored at the Tema breakwaters, off-loaded the 77 parcels of cocaine, out of which 76 were off-loaded into two canoes, which landed at the Kpone beach in Greater Accra.

The State Attorney noted that news of the missing parcels broke out in the underworld speedily like wild fire, which led the security agencies to investigate the matter.

Then Director-General in charge of Operations of the Ghana Police Service, ACP Kofi Boakye, invited the accused persons to his house, where they openly boasted that they supplied, distributed drugs, and eventually settled old scores.

The State Attorney explained, the accused persons agreed in furtherance of their business to locate the missing parcels and share them, after they had agreed that the booty was too much for one person to enjoy.

Nana Asante Bediatuo, counsel for Tagor, in applying for bail for his client, stated that he did not believe the matter would lead to the conviction of the accused person, to warrant him running away.

He was of the view that a prima facie case should be established against the accused persons in the form of a mini-trial, to ascertain whether the prosecution really had a case against the accused persons, before the trial could commence.

Counsel for Alhaji Issah Abass, Osafo Boabeng, who associated himself with the submissions of counsel for the first accused person, also applied for bail for his client, in addition to the recommendation for a prima facie case to establish whether the prosecution had overwhelming evidence against the accused persons.

He observed that his client was first arrested and granted bail, but later re-arrested. He therefore, gave assurance that his client would not interfere with police investigations.

Ms Aikins however, opposed the grant of bail to the accused persons, stating that there had been instances where accused persons, freed on bail in similar cases, later threatened witnesses.

She said, the very sensitive nature of the case was such that the accused persons could interfere in police investigations, and therefore, prayed the court to remand them into custody, with the assurance that the trial would be expedited.

The trial Judge ruled out the possibility of a mini-trial and said, this was a summary trial.

He was however, of the view that the prosecution had a case against the accused persons, but added it really needed to marshal evidence against them, to prove the reason for which they were being tried.

The bail application was refused, and Tagor and Alhaji Issah were remanded into police custody.

The attention of the Judge was, however, drawn to the fact that the accused persons had been ill for sometime now and needed medical attention.

He therefore, directed the investigator in the case to arrange medical treatment for them, after Tagor had coughed intermittently, throughout the trial.

Arrested about four months ago, while the Georgina Wood Committee was investigating the whereabouts of the missing parcels, Tagor, Alhaji Issah Abass, Kwabena Acheampong, Kwadwo Ababio and Victor Kisseh were first tried at an Accra Circuit Court.

They had pleaded not guilty to four counts of conspiracy to commit crime, dealing in business relating to narcotic drugs, importation of the 77 parcels and promoting an enterprise relating to narcotic drugs.

The Attorney-General withdrew the charges against Kwadwo Ababio, alias Sumankwa, after the Georgina Committee exonerated him of any wrongdoing in the missing cocaine saga.

Nonetheless, the case has been adjourned to December 5, 2006.

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