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General News of Wednesday, 19 November 2003

Source: GNA

Boy depicts father's harrowing tale award winning painting
Accra, Nov. 19, GNA - A Witness at the National Reconciliation (NRC) on Wednesday said the arrest and execution of his father, Samuel Boamah Panyin, which he depicted vividly in a painting, earned him the grand prize in a national art contest in the United States, as well as a visit to the White House.

Mr Leslie Kwame Kissi Boamah, the Witness, said he received 150,000 dollars as his prize and attended an American university on a full scholarship. He also visited the Cable News Network (CNN) and the Voice of America for interviews in the US.

The Commissioners and observers in the public gallery were full of admiration of the 26-year-old graphic artists Mr Boamah, as he showed pictures of the artwork and a photo in which he was being hugged by Mrs Hillary Rodney Clinton in the White House, congratulating him on his brilliant artwork.

But, his mother, Madam Felicia Gladys Boamah, who suggested the topic for the son's artwork, and had earlier given evidence before the Commission, could not hold back her tears as Mr Boamah corroborated the ordeal the family went through, following the arrest and execution of her husband.

Mr Boamah' father, Samuel Atta Boamah Panyin, was executed, along with Mawuli Dra-Goka, Braimah Kankani, Charles Aforo, Kyeremeh Djan, after they were sentenced to death in 1986 for treason.

In his narration, Mr Boamah then eight years old, said soldiers stormed their house in search of his father.

He said the soldiers beat an uncle, Kwesi Owusu, mercilessly, to the point of death, and led him at gunpoint to a waiting vehicle.

Mr Boamah said he was made to go and stay with his grandparents, who told him that his father had fled the country with the mother as a result of the harrowing experience.

Witness said he was often at a loss when friends of his late father met him and rather expressed sorrow and gave him money, adding that the memories of the last time he saw his father who was brought home at one point and taken away in a very hostile position were still fresh on his mind.

Mr Boamah, who said he was deeply attached to his father because they had the same birthday, remembered his father telling him he would buy a shoe he had promised him, "but that shoe never came."

He said the pain that had been with him after his mother told him that his father had been killed, had still not gone away, adding that he carried the pain in his painting on the arrest and execution that won the prize.

"I felt God heard my prayer. It was a dream, come true. God gave me the confidence and motivation to tell the story of myself and my father" Mr Boamah said.

The Commissioners unanimously expressed their sympathy and congratulated the Witness and urged him to move on to greater heights.

In her evidence, Mr Boamah's mother, also resident in the US, told the Commission that she returned to their house in Accra, only to find soldiers, and a military vehicle parked in the house.

She said she got scared and sought refuge in a nearby house and sent a friend to verify what was happening.

She said the emissary reported back to her that soldiers were severely beating the brother-in-law and others in the house in the full glare of her two kids.

Mrs Boamah said when she eventually went to the house, the soldiers, led by RSM Jack Bebli, were still beating her brother-in-law. They kicked him and made him roll on the steps for a number of times. He has since developed a stroke.

She said the soldiers called one Yaw Donkor from the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI), who arrived and seized the family car from her amidst death threats.

She said she was so scared that he left the house, went on an escape mission, and went sleeping from hotel to hotel. "I ran without anybody chasing me", she said.

Mrs Boamah said after consulting with Yaw Donkor and one Atinga Naaba, also of the BNI, she was directed to the Nsawam Prisons, but was prevented from seeing the husband because he was in the condemned cells.

She said her husband, who she saw during his trial, told her that he had been accused of conspiring with Mawuli Goka, to stage a coup to oust the government of the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC).

The Witness denied the involvement of her late husband in a coup plot, saying that the husband, an artist, was a friend to the Goka brothers, then in exile in Togo, whom he used to visit.

Mrs Boamah expressed surprise at torture of the victims, who she said had expressed the hope that they would not be executed because of the severe torture they had been subjected to.

She said Boamah Panyin told her he was shown hewn flesh of Mawuli's back to extract confession from him (Boamah Panyin) of his complicity to the alleged coup plot.

Witness said the victims were blindfolded, put into a barrel and beaten severely.

She added that the genitals of her late husband were so mutilated that even if he had lived, "he won't be able to sleep with a woman."

Mrs Boamah said she faced a lot of hostilities from friends and acquaintances, especially from the family of her late husband after his execution.

She said her husband's family members wrongly accused her of having reported her husband to be arrested and executed.

She said amidst the accusations, and frustration, she left for the US for refuge, and her children later joined her.

"I can't even tell my story. I had no friend, nothing. My life was no more. I pray to God all time that truth will come out," Witness said.

The Chairman of the Commission, Mr Justice Kweku Etrew Amua-Sekyi, informed the hearing that remains of the late Boamah Panyin had been exhumed and said the Commission was prepared to arrange to allow Mrs Boamah and her son view them if they so wished.

Another Witness, Ex Sgt Joseph Pap Kobina former bodyguard of the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Air Marshall Barnor, said he escaped being arrested by a group of soldiers led by Roger Nsurowuo in the house of the then CDS.

Ex Sgt Pap Kobina said for fear of his life, he went into exile to Nigeria and came back in 1992. Witness said he had a shock and was paralysed for five years after he was given his discharge book, which said he was discharged since October 26, 1981.

Ex Sgt Pap Kobina challenged the validity of his discharge, arguing that it should have been signed by his Commanding Officer and the last officer under whom he served rather than the record officer.

He said under the circumstance he was still a serving officer of the Ghana Armed Forces, and demanded his salary arrears from December 31 1981 to date.

"I'm looking for my pay from December 31 till now", and added that he had not been paid his benefits after the said discharge.

Ex Sgt Pap Kobina said he enlisted into the Ghana Armed Forces in 1974 and signed to serve in the military for 18 years, but his career was cut short, while some of his colleagues with the same rank who signed for the same period served up to 24 years.