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Crime & Punishment of Monday, 28 May 2012

Source: GNA

Asem Darkey pleads not guilty to charges

Christian Asem Darkey, alias Limping Man, who allegedly imported 77 parcels of cocaine on board MV Benjamin, on Monday appeared before the Fast Track High Court in Accra.

Darkey also known as Sherriff, a businessman, is currently facing charges of conspiracy, importation of narcotic drugs, possession of narcotic drugs without lawful authority, undertaking prohibited business relating to narcotic drugs, and corruption of public officer.

He has denied the charges, and the court presided over by Mr. Justice Mustapha Habib Logoh, remanded him into prison custody to re-appear on June 1.

Meanwhile, the court has turned down a bail application put in by Darkey’s lawyer, Mr. George Heward-Mills.

Mr. Heward-Mills told the court that his client was a serious Tema-based businessman, who had a fixed place of abode and would not abscond if granted bail.

He said the prosecution’s facts presented before the court were fabricated.

Counsel lamented over his inability to get access to his ailing client while in custody of the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI), adding that Darkey was also not getting adequate food in custody.

Mr. Heward-Mills was of the view that, if the court remanded Darker in prison custody, he would be able to get access to him, and his family (Client) would also be able to provide him with adequate food.

Counsel said denying Darkey food amounted to subjecting him to psychological trauma and made his client to make some pronouncements.

However, Mrs Yvonne Atakora Oboubisa, Principal State Attorney, opposed the bail application.

She said that Darkey was given food three times daily and the BNI had two standby doctors at its infirmary to take care of his health.

Mrs Oboubisa said the defence counsel could have access to his client at the BNI offices.

She informed the court that the State Attorney would put in an application at the next sitting so that the first hearing would be done in camera.

On April 26, 2006, intelligence gathered indicated that a shipping vessel called MV Benjamin was on the high seas carrying about 77 parcels of cocaine heading towards the West African Coast, specifically Ghana.

Around midnight the same day, the said vessel docked at Tema/Kpone and discharged the 77 parcels, which were offloaded into a waiting vehicle and taken away.

Investigations led to the arrest of some persons who were put before various courts, tried and convicted to various prison terms.

During the course of the trials of the accused persons, the name of Asem Darkey featured prominently as the importer and owner of the 77 parcels.

Furthermore, investigations revealed that Darkey chartered the vessel at $150,000 and used it to bring another vessel carrying the narcotic drugs from Guinea, which were off-loaded into MV Benjamin on the high seas and the name of the vessel was changed.

The accused reportedly carted the 77 parcels from the vessel on its arrival at Kpone and gave some dollars to some security personnel to prevent them from arresting him.

On Thursday, February 2, 2012, Asem Darkey was arrested at Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital upon a tip-off.**

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