General News of Thursday, 17 January 2013
Source: Daily Graphic
The Alhaji Issa Mobilla murder trial came to a close yesterday as lawyers put their cases before the jury for consideration.
After the lawyers' addresses, the judge, Mr. Justice Mohammed Habib Logoh, adjourned the matter until February 6, 2013 to enable the jury to deliberate and arrive at a verdict.
In a murder trial, the jury needs to arrive at a unanimous verdict of guilty or not guilty.
The judge will sum up on the law and evidence regarding the charge and base his judgment on the verdict.
In his address, Thaddeus Sory, counsel for Corporal Yaw Appiah, urged the jury not to allow themselves to be used as a vehicle to scapegoat the accused person.
He said the prosecution had failed to prove the ingredients of the charge of murder leveled against the accused person and that his client was being made into a scapegoat.
"The intention of the accused person was to get the late Mobilla to speak the truth and it was not true that he set out to kill him," he said in his closing address to the jury.
Corporal Appiah and Private Seth Goka are accused of murdering Mobilla, a former Northern Regional Chairman of the Convention People's Party (CPP), in December 2004.
Private Goka is, however, on the run and is being tried in absentia.
Earlier, the court had acquitted and discharged a third soldier, Private Eric Modzaka, on the charge of murder, after his counsel had made a submission of 'no case,' which was upheld by the court.
Mr. Sory told the jury that Cpl. Appiah was on duty when Mobilla was brought to the guardroom and Appiah's adjutant had instructed him to beat the deceased until he spoke the truth.
Counsel said that the accused person only obeyed his superior's instruction and never intended to kill Mr. Mobilla, as alleged by the prosecution, and that the killing was purely accidental.
He said that by law, even if an accused person’s actions result in death, so long as he acted under a reasonable belief that what he was doing would not result in death, then the charge should be manslaughter.
Counsel said if the Armed Forces thought that the accused person had committed any offence under its rules, Appiah would have been court-marshaled.
Mr. Sory attacked the prosecution's claim that the accused persons were liars, adding that Appiah was the only person who spoke the truth about the matter and admitted that he, together with other soldiers, had beaten up Mobilla.
"The prosecution even said several other soldiers beat up Mobilla but why is it that it is only the accused person who is being held for beating him to death?" counsel asked.
He said the beating that the accused person meted out to Mobilla could not be isolated as resulting in Mobilla's death.
He therefore urged the jury to put themselves in the shoes of the accused and see if they would not have obeyed their superior's instruction.
A Chief State Attorney, Penelope Marmattah, urged the jury to return a verdict of guilty against the accused persons because they set out to kill Mobilla when they used neem tree sticks to beat him up.
According to her, the accused person could have refused to carry out the orders or instructions of their superior officer, since the order was illegal and contrary to the Armed Forces rules.
She said the evidence clearly demonstrates that when the deceased was taken to the custody of the accused person, he was strong and healthy and even walked unassisted.
According to her, the statements of the accused persons also bolstered the point that when Mobilla was sent to the barracks, he was very strong and healthy because he had walked with the three policemen who had taken him there.
She said the prosecution had proved its case beyond reasonable doubt, for which reason the jury should not hesitate to enter a verdict of guilty against the accused persons.
Mobilla was arrested by the police on December 9, 2004 for allegedly supplying the youth of Tamale with guns to foment trouble.
While in police custody, the police claimed they received information that Mobilla's followers and sympathisers were mobilising to free him.