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General News of Sunday, 8 April 2018

Source: www.ghanaweb.com

Confessions of some condemned prisoners

Even after spending several years in the condemned cells of the Nsawam Medium Security Prisons, inmates on death row - following convictions for murder and armed robbery are still pleading their innocence and want to be granted amnesty.

Death penalty has been in Ghana’s legal system since the application of the English common law in 1874 but no execution has been recorded since July 1993 after then-President Jerry John Rawlings ordered the killing of some 12 convicts via a firing squad.

Currently, the condemned cells of the Nsawam Prison hold over 150 and unlike other blocks of the prison, there are strict restrictions imposed on inmates on death row.

The psychological trauma, emotional torture, and health challenges the convicts go through each day, amidst these restrictions seem to be weighing down on them as they spend days, months and years in the condemned cells.

A latest documentary by Ambassador Extraordinaire of Prisons, Ibrahim Oppong Kwarteng, exposes the fear and horrifying conditions of many of these “death row prisoners” at the Nsawam Medium Security Prisons.

Most of the prisoners are undergoing emotional torture and the older ones are struggling with various diseases as a result of the condition of the facility.

Some of the inmates who spoke to Mr. Kwarteng confessed to committing murder but claimed they did that unwillingly.

Among these distressed prisoners is a man who has already served 13 years of his sentence.

He was jailed at a teenage of 19 and he is currently 32 years old.

Claiming his innocence and pleading for amnesty on behalf of his colleagues, he says, “I was accused of killing my own grandmother. I didn’t do it and that’s the truth. President Akufo-Addo, we really know that you came for all Ghanaians. We’re humbly pleading to you. Look at the young boys here who have been sentenced to death…”

A feeble looking man who has been battling diabetes since 2013 says he killed someone in self-defence.

“I fought with someone and he used a stick to hit me. I also got infuriated and used a stick and a machete to attack him. The machete caused severe damage to his head. He died three months later. The family insisted it is a murder case and I was brought here…”

However, his continuous confinement at the condemned cells has reduced him to nothing but a hub of diseases.

In tears, the diabetic oldman tells the Executive Director of Crime Check Foundation (CCF) he is barely alive.

“Anytime I eat I have to go to toilet. My tummy hurts anytime I eat and even the little porridge I took this morning, I’ve excreted all,” he tearfully tells Mr. Kwarteng.

Many others gave accounts of their crimes and also showed remorse, begging for pardon from President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.

Though many of the prisoners denied committing murder knowingly, one oldman wholeheartedly confirmed he deliberately did so.

The 72-year-old man reveals he killed his own wife over infidelity.

He narrates, “I was with my wife and domestic problems started and I was very much a drunkard, so I couldn’t stand the peace. I had a gun and shot her!”

Below is the documentary on the confessions of the prisoners