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General News of Friday, 22 November 2019


AG abusing human rights of ‘coup plotters’ - Adawudu tells court

Victor Kojogah Adawudu, defence counsel for the first accused person (A1), Dr Mac Palm, and others in the trial of the alleged coup plotters, has lamented bitterly to a Kaneshie District Court about how the state was abusing the human rights of his clients under the pretence of investigations.

Mr Adawudu, whose view was supported by other defence counsel, told the court that per a statement issued by the Information Ministry when the accused persons were arrested, the state investigated them (accused persons) for 15 months – meaning that the prosecution had gathered enough evidence against them.

Counsel did not, therefore, understand why the state prosecutor would continuously be seeking adjournments for further investigations, two months after the suspects were arrested in a serious crime like treason.

According to him, it had become hackneyed for state prosecutors to keep telling the court that “investigation is ongoing” and that the mantra should no more be accepted in a country that is practising constitutional democracy with human rights and good governance as its attributes.

The defence counsel and his learned colleagues went gaga after the prosecutor, ASP Sylvester Asare, told the court that he was dropping the charge sheets and substituting them with new one, and was, therefore, requesting for an extension of time for investigations to be completed, and that the accused persons must be remanded into police and military custody respectively.

Mr Adawudu was representing Dr Frederick Yao Mac-Palm (A1), Donya Kafui (A2), Bright Allan Debrah Ofosu (A3), Col. Samuel Kojo Gameli (4), Lance Corporal Ali Solomon (5), Lance Corporal Seidu Abubakar (7), and Gershon Akpa (9).

The rest are Lance Corporal Sylvester Akapewu (A6), WO II Esther Saan (A8), and ACP/Dr. Benjamin Agordzo (A10), who were represented by different counsel.

The 10 were arraigned before the court on the charges of conspiracy to commit crime, treason felony, abetment to commit crime, treason felony, and possessing of unlawful ammunition.

Mr Adawudu, arguing on the new charge sheet presented to the court, said there was nothing new in there and accused the prosecutor of trying to mislead the court.

He told the Magistrate, Her Lady Eleanor Botwe, that if she should critically look at the new facts before her, she would realise that nothing had been changed, adding that the concept of automatic remand in criminal proceedings should be stamped out and that serious judicial inquiry bail is needed.

To him, if indeed the state was conducting investigations, it would have reflected in the new charge sheet, and appealed to the Magistrate to ensure that the prosecution has done the right thing otherwise the citizens would lose trust in the court system.

Martin Kpebu, defence counsel for ACP Benjamin Agordzo, on his part, described the action of the prosecution as an ambush, because the charge upon which his client had been put before court was withdrawn and substituted with another, which they were not made aware of.

According to him, the investigators, after almost 17 months, should be in an advanced stage of their investigations given the nature of the case, and that even if it was an elephant, it would have given birth by now.

The counsel continued that the prosecution had made coming to court a practice to mark the register instead of committal, adding that his client, since November 4, 2019, had not been asked even one question. “As counsel, we don’t appreciate to come here to mark register,” he added.

He also argued on Section 60 (30) that if the old charges had been dropped, the accused persons should be discharged to home so that they are re-invited to start the case afresh.

But the Magistrate pointed it out to him that charge sheet could be withdrawn at anytime, nevertheless, she urged prosecution to take their time to conduct their investigations, and reduce the incidents of withdrawing the charge sheet, since it was the fourth time in the case of the nine accused persons arrested earlier, and second for ACP Benjamin Agordzo.

ASP Sylvester Asare, however, assured the court that the investigation was far advanced and that the court should extend the time for them to complete it.

He also told the court that 22 explosives, six pistols, three handguns, grenades and five bullets were discovered during investigations of the accused persons.