Crime & Punishment of Wednesday, 9 July 2014
The abuse of the rights of accused persons who spend long periods on remand in police custody and prisons took centre stage at the Accra Circuit Court last Monday.
The judge, Mr Francis Obiri, expressed the concern when a plumber who had spent close to three-and-half-years (41 months) on remand at the Nsawam Medium Security Prison without any trial was brought to the court.
The court had enquired from Robert Kofi Amoh, the accused, the last time he appeared before it and he retorted that his last appearance was in July 2012.
Mr Obiri took a swipe at the failure of prosecutors and investigators to bring the accused to stand trial, as well as the absence in court of the complainant who had alleged robbery against Amoh.
“I am not enthused about some of these human rights abuses. By the Constitution, accused persons are deemed to be innocent until proven guilty,” he said.
“These are some of the lapses that cause the state to incur damages and pay unnecessary huge debts,” he stated.
He warned that if the prosecutor handling Amoh’s case failed to turn up in court for the trial to commence on the adjourned date, the court would discharge the accused person.
The accused, charged with unlawful entry and robbery, had pleaded not guilty to all the charges.
The court granted him a GHc15,000 bail, with two sureties who are residents of Accra.
He is to reappear on July 21, 2014.
The facts of the case are that the complainant, an Immigration officer, accused Amoh, a trader, of robbery.
About 1 a.m. on February 28, 2011, the accused is said to have scaled the back wall of a block at Dansoman SSNIT Flats where his parents, as well as the complainant, lived.
Amoh is alleged to have entered the complainant’s room on the third floor and stole his wallet containing GHc135, two mobile phones worth GHc575 and three wrist watches valued at GHc610.4.
When Amoh attempt to flee through the main door of the room, the complainant spotted him and Amoh was said to have pulled out a blade from his pocket and threatened to harm the complainant if he shouted.
Amoh carried out his threat when the complainant tried to apprehend him and inflicted cuts on the complainant’s arm, stomach and face.
The two then struggled and, in the process, the accused fell from the third floor to the ground floor of the building.
The incident was reported to the police, who arrested Amoh.