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General News of Tuesday, 1 June 2004

Source: GNA

Capt Koda testifies at NRC

Accra, June 1, GNA - Captain Edmund Kojo Koda, a former member of the Pre-Trial Investigations Team (PIT), on Tuesday told the National Reconciliation Commission (NRC) that there was nothing regular about the military take-over of June 4 1979.

Witness, who had been mentioned by a number of Witnesses, described the take-over as mutiny rather than a coup, and rendered a general apology to all civilians affected by that event, adding that the action, meant to check corruption among senior military officers rather spilled over to the civilian population.

He accepted collective responsibility for the executions of 1979, but declined any to offer any apology to officers affected by the events of June 4 1979, which he described as a shameful event, adding that it must not be celebrated.

Captain Koda, who said he was then below 30 years said June 4 was the making of the officers corps, stating that the officers were supposed to lead the junior ranks, "but not to let them turn their guns on us".

He said Flt Lt Jerry John Rawlings, led the December 31 1981 Revolution, which he condemned, on the grounds that it had seized power from a constitutionally elected government.

Witness, who was giving evidence after cross-examining Squadron Leader Tagoe, who had said in an earlier evidence, that he had taken part in beating him from behind when he was brought before the PIT in 1979. Capt. Koda admitted soldiers beating the Squadron Leader from behind, but denied personally giving him any slaps.

The Commission stated that it had not sponsored Capt Koda, to fly from London to cross-examine Squadron Leader Tagoe.

Counsel for Captain Koda, Mr. J E Yeboa, who announced his presence, had not wanted to cross-examine Squadron Leader Tagoe.

Commission Chairman Mr Justice Kweku Etru Amua-Sekyi asked Lawyer Yeboa, who thereafter took a seat in the Witness gallery, to sit down. Witness told the Commission that the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC), was not set up on June 4 1979, but rather in the afternoon of June 5 1979 in a classroom, "with duster, chalk and blackboard," in drawing up the government, and appointing people to positions in that government.

Witness said the June 4 take-over was rebellion against the officers, as a culmination of series of events, which started with the military coup that threw over a constitutional government on January 12 1972. He said there was later a wholesale admission of people who were in prison with Flight Lieutenant Jerry John Rawlings, into the Council, adding that seven of such people were later admitted into the government. Answering questions from Professor Henrietta Mensa-Bonsu on how he got to be appointed to the PIT, Capt Koda, said Flt. Lt Rawlings, whom he said, he never knew as a friend called him after June 4 and told him he had been selected to serve on the PIT. Witness said his selection was based on acceptance by the soldiers, rather than qualification.

Witness had asked in his written correspondence with the Commission to have Flt-Lt. Rawlings to be present during his cross examination and possibly to cross-examine him.

But Dr. Ken Agyeman Attafuah the Commission's Executive Secretary read the Commission's response to the effect that respondents were contacted to cross examine Witnesses on allegations of specific human rights abuses.

Witness said the PIT was established to act in conjunction with the People's Court to stop further executions of the Generals, and added that 200 people came before the PIT in its three months of existence, but a lot of them were released.

He said drivers and personal bodyguards appeared before the PIT to give evidence on the activities of the officers brought to the PIT. Captain Koda agreed to a suggestion that the people, who came before the PIT were unfairly treated, but stated emphatically that he never hit any civilian.

Captain Koda said he would not know if the generals were tried before they were executed, and added that he was not happy when he heard that General Acheampong, who he had previously driven after a press conference, to the Peduase Lodge and assured he would not be executed had been executed.

He said, he would have been made a victim of the executions if the had been promoted to the position of Major, because officers with the rank of Major and above were made targets of the execution. He spoke of efforts, including meeting with students to dampen their quest to "let the blood flow". "Let the blood flow was then the catch-phrase for the then military government to continue with the executions."

Captain Koda said Squadron Leader Tagoe, Colonel Kwame Baah and Major Adade,were supposed to be on the third batch of officers to be executed,, were the first three people the PIT attended to. He said the soldier had accused the Squadron Leader, then of the Meat Marketing Board of refusing them meat supply and rather giving it to women.

Witness said the PIT charged Squadron Leader Tagoe of corruption, and sentenced him to 15 years and the other two officers to five and eight years. But upon the agitation of the junior ranks the sentences reviewed to 50, 80 and 95 for Squadron Leader Tagoe.

Captain Koda said he and other panellist on PIT were later falsely accused of corruption and added that he later led a jailbreak.

Another Witness, Mr. Martin Kwasi Budu Kwartiah, former Public Relation Officer of the Ghana Trades Union Congress told the Commission of a series of brutalities meted out to him on the orders of Mr. Amartey Kwei, a Member of the Provisional National Defence Council in 1982. This follows a press release, which was published after a consultative meeting which dissociated itself from the rallies of the PNDC, which workers attended during working hours, thereby affecting productivity at the workplaces.

Mr Kwartiah said Mr Amartey Kwei, who was very upset after the publication stormed his with soldiers from the Gondar Barracks, and in a threatening manner warned him, but told him to expect punishment. He said soon, one Mr Aboagye, then Electricity Corporation of Ghana Labour Steward, arrived in his office with a group of members of the then cadre group of the People's Defence Committee (PDC) and molested him. He said Mr Aboagye called him a traitor of the PDC and on his orders, the PDC men attacked his office and pushed him.

He said the men hit his head for about 30 minutes and bundled him into a truck into the Electricity Yard, later paraded through some streets in Accra and sent to the Gondar Barracks.

At the Gondar Barracks, Mr Aboagye issued a password after which soldiers asked him to jump down, and he fell with a thud. Witness said the soldiers beat him and dragged him to the entrance of the Gondar Barracks, seized his wristwatch, detained him for nine hours during they continued molesting him.

He said he met Nana Okutwer Bekoe, and Mr Krobo Edusei, both political detainees and added that in the evening after Sergeant Alolga Akata Pore had interrogated him, he went home with puffy eyes and blood stained shirt.

He said after two months at home, he went back to the office, but he received a number of anonymous telephone calls, threatening to "liquidate" him and was later dismissed along with other departmental heads by a radio announcement.

In what appeared being lured to his arrest, Mr Kwartiah said he was invited to attend a meeting at the TUC, only to see Amartey Kwei of who, he said, he was scared of at the supposed meeting and so attempted to escape, but was arrested and a handed over to him.

He said Mr Amartey Kwei ordered him to taken to one Mr Charles Ocloo, at the State House.

He said Amartey Kwei followed up, and upon his orders, his men blindfolded him, put him in a vehicle and drove him at a frightening speed, and tied him to a tree at a place he later identified to be possibly Mile Eleven Cemetery, beat him for some time and left him in ropes.

Witness said he prayed and wriggled himself out of the rope and walked to the street, but help was not readily available until he was identified by a Good Samaritan, a former neighbour, who rescued him. He said he later went into exile, and came back in 1996.

Witness said, not only did he lose one eye due to the brutalities, but the education of his education also suffered.

He said he had not forgiven Mr Aboagye, whom Uborr Dalafu Labal, a Member of the Commission said was now also blind.

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