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General News of Monday, 31 May 2004

Source: GNA

I'm a peaceful person- Dr Asare

Accra, May 31, GNA - Dr Joseph Bediako Asare, Psychiatrist in-charge of the Accra Mental Hospital, on Wednesday testified at the National Reconciliation Commission (NRC) and denied ever ordering soldiers to kill a former staff in 1983.

"I'm a peaceful person, I hate violence," he said, and added, " I never ordered this lady to be arrested and tortured."

Dr Asare was giving evidence in reaction to earlier evidence from Madam Comfort Yaa Nudo, a former cook at the hospital.

Both witnesses swore on the Bible. Dr Asare appeared with Counsel Bram Larbi. Madam Nudo had told the Commission that Dr Asare had ordered Military Police (MP) personnel to arrest her and other female colleagues for alleged theft of food items meant for inmates of the hospital in 1983 and later had her dismissed in 1984.

Madam Nudo, who said she was now working at a day-care centre at Abossey Okai, said after the three male MP had carried a search on their bodies, they were bundled into a waiting military vehicle and sent to the Gondar Barracks and maltreated.

She said the MP men beat them up with their belts till they got into a room, which had a lot of people in it.

Witness said Dr Asare together with one Father Bon Benson, Mr Akuamoah the hospital gatekeeper, and the hospital secretary arrived at about 2145 hours, and accused them of stealing hospital food. She said before the four left, Dr Asare and Father Benson asked the soldiers to beat and kill her and her colleagues, and added that they were saved by one man, who identified himself as Corporal Dagadu, who saved them from the death threats.

She said the soldiers showed them bodies of three persons blindfolded and shot and asked them to say their final prayers in preparation for their execution.

It was shortly after that that Corporal Dagadu, who witness described as an angel sent by God to deliver them emerged and presented himself to be sacrificed on their behalf.

Madam Nudo said they were then released and asked to report the next day at the Asylum Down Police Station.

She said Dr Asare, Father Benson, the secretary and Mr Akuamoah were at the Police Station the next day with press photographers and took pictures of them, which were published in the national newspapers. She said they were later put before court, but were acquitted and discharged, after a probe was later set up to go into doings at the Psychiatrist Hospital.

Madam Nudo said Dr Asare later dismissed her on the grounds that she had disgraced him at the court. She said her benefits for eight years were not paid, and the hospital administration did not co-operate with her in getting her Social Security Records.

Madam Nudo, who said she attended the Winner's Chapel, was emphatic that Dr Asare orchestrated her dismissal from the hospital, and added that she forgave Dr Asare, Father Benson, Mr Akuamoah and the secretary when she became a born again Christian.

Dr Asare denied ever ordering her, Madam Nudo's dismissal, saying Madam Nudo vacated her post when she was redeployed to the Occupational Therapy Section of the hospital.

"I never dismissed her. I don't have the power to dismiss anybody. He said Father Benson co-ordinated food relief given to the hospital by the Catholic Relief Services in 1983.

Dr Asare spoke of stealing of food items to the hospital, and confirmed a check on the staff, but said no soldier was involved in the search, but rather by members of then workplace Workers Defence Committee. Dr Asare also said he was never at the Gondar Barracks to order soldiers to kill Madam Nudo, adding that the only time he was at Gondar Barracks was in 1998, to give a talk on drug and HIV/AIDS to soldiers about to go on a peace-keeping mission.

Another Witness, Mr Edmund Saka Akuamoah said in April 1982, one Mr Acheampong of the Pharmacy Board led some soldiers to his chemical shop at Okaishie and parked the contents of the shop to the Pharmacy Board. He said one of the soldiers gave him slaps when he returned from making a call from a nearby shop.

Witness said he became indebted from the seizure, and his children's education was affected.

He prayed the Commission to make the appropriate recommendations in regard to his loss.

Businessman Mr Albert Esar Entsia Junior, also known as Nana Otchir Annan II, chief of Anomabo Asafara told the Commission that, the government of the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) compulsory acquired 192 square miles of land belonging to the Ellis and Wood families in 1982.

The Witness, who identified himself as the one having the Power of Attorney of the that parcel of land near the Kakum Park said the families acquired the land in 1894 an renewed the acquisition in 1903, but the new Hemanhene who wanted to have the land back instituted court action at several courts but lost.

The Acheampong government compulsory acquired the land in 1974, and the PNDC returned the land under PNDC Law 29, in 1982. Mr Entsia Junior said Nana Hemanhen later instituted actions at the Supreme Court, but lost all before Justices Annie Jiage, Kpegah and Wiredu.

Witness said Nana Ato Dadzie who was counsel for the Hemanhene later became Chief of Staff of the PNDC, and PNDC Law 294 was passed in 1992 for compulsory state acquisition of the land.

Mr Entsia Junior said the families rejected 200 million cedis compensation, challenging the constitutionality of the acquisition on the basis that the families were not consulted, and also that the money was inadequate.

Witness said Nii Boye Sowah without any power of attorney from the families colluded with a girlfriend, a daughter to a member of the families to falsify signatories of bank accounts of the families and had the money lodged into the Cape Coast Branch of the Agricultural Development Bank.

The duo had then already collected 40 million cedis out of the amount which Dr Yaw Kurankye, the Managing Director directed the stoppage of payment when the fraud was detected.

Mr Entsia Junior said the money was still lodged in the account of the families, and prayed the Commission to recommend the money to be taken out of the accounts saying that it was tainted with fraud. He also prayed the Commission to recommend the release of the land to the families.

The Commission grilled Ex-Staff Sergeant James Kobina Ewusi, of the Kumsi Four BN, another Witness, who maintained that there was nothing wrong for leading some young men to arrest and molest Opanin Kofi Mensah, and the late Opanin Kwabena Mensu both of Mradan, near Dunkwa-on-Ofin.

Witness who was in the in the Hall to cross-examine Opanin Mensah and Madam Yaa Ntiwaa, daughter of the late Opanin Mensu, said to have died as result of the brutalities meted out to him. Ex-Staff Sergeant Ewusi, denied any personal maltreatment of the Opanin Mensah.

He said they assisted the young men to arrest Opanin Mensah and Opanin Mensu for refusing to allow the young men to work on a piece of land acquired.

He added that Opanin Mensu escaped when they were being sent to Bungalow No.1, where the Airforce soldiers, they handed them over to had pitched camp.

The Witness stood his ground that there was nothing wrong of the arrest and brutalities, because they were done to protect the sovereignty of the state. 31 May 04

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