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General News of Thursday, 24 July 2003

Source: GNA

Court frees Ya Na Andani's alleged killer

Accra, July 24, GNA - An Accra High Court, presided over by Mr Justice Yaw Appau on Thursday acquitted and discharged Iddrisu Gyanfo, one of the accused persons charged with conspiracy and murder in the on-going trial of the assassination of Ya Na Yakubu Andani II, Paramount Chief of the Dagbon Traditional Area.

"It is fair that since the prosecution has admitted that the second accused person, Gyanfo, was not implicated, he should be discharged immediately," Mr Justice Appau said.

The trial judge directed the seven-member jury to enter the verdict of guilty or not guilty.

The jurors unanimously pronounced a verdict of not guilty and Gyanfo was accordingly freed.

The two accused persons, Yidana Sugri and Gyanfo were charged with conspiracy and murder.

They had pleaded not guilty to the charges.

On the fate of Yidana Sugri, the first accused person, the court stressed that the prosecution was saying he is guilty of the offence, while Nana Obiri Boahen, Counsel for the two accused persons, is saying they are not guilty.

Mr Anthony Gyanbiby, Principal State Attorney, addressing the court on Thursday in response to the defence team's address on July 16, emphasised that all the prosecution witnesses were honest when they said that they did not see Gyanfo during the incident.

Gyanfo had earlier pleaded alibi and he said he was nowhere near the incident.

Mr. Gyanbiby said by pleading alibi, Gyanfo meant that the prosecution witnesses mistook him for the real perpetrators of the crime.

The prosecution said the second accused impressed upon the court that for the three days of the event, he was at his village called Mempeasem.

The prosecution expressed regret that that the investigator did not extend his investigations to the village, and described it as unfortunate.

Mr Gyanbiby noted that because the two accused persons were charged with conspiracy, among other offences, Sugri also should be discharged on that offence because one person could not be charged with conspiracy. However, he quickly chipped in to explain that the two were charged together with "others" who, he said, were at large and when arrested at an appropriate time would be indicted for prosecution.

He explained conspiracy as agreeing or planning together to commit a crime with a common purpose and that it takes between two and more persons to commit the offence.

The prosecutor noted that it was the burden of the prosecution to prove its case beyond every reasonable doubt, which it has accomplished. "Here, we are not talking about possibilities, but a high degree of probabilities....This is the meaning of reasonable doubt." Touching on "murder," Mr Gyanbiby contended that whoever commits murder, should be made to suffer death, unless the charge is reduced to manslaughter.

Mr Gyanbiby said the prosecution was able through the trial, to prove the five ingredients expected of it.

He said it had proved that Ya Na Andani died on March 27, last year as a result of harm.

The prosecution also proved that the death, which resulted was unlawful, this unlawful harm caused the death and the death was intentional.

Mr. Gyambiby said evidence was led by four prosecution witnesses to establish that they saw Sugri holding the amputated hand of the late Ya Na with a watch around it.

He said the witnesses also saw him dancing with the hand and heard him dare anyone from the Abudus to go forward for it. The prosecutor, therefore, submitted that the first accused showed that he was brave.

He said when one looked at the circumstances of the case, there was a high probability that Sugri murdered the Ya Na.

The prosecutor stated that the evidence adduced by the prosecution was so strong, direct and circumstantial that the first accused killed the late paramount Chief.

Mr Gyambiby noted that Sugri said in his statement that he saw Gyanfo holding the late Ya Na's head, but when he went into the witness box he denied the statement.

He added that Sugri also denied that he heard gunshots, but later admitted by contradicting himself.

Mr Gyambiby said, in his evidence, Sugri said for the whole of his life when he lived at Yendi, he never saw the late Ya Na. Sugri added that during the hostilities he remained in a room because his father advised him not to go out.

The prosecutor said evidence was led to show that on the day of the incident, Sugri was seen in town.

"Could the first accused be credible?" he asked. Mr Gyambiby said Sugri was at war with the truth since he said one thing at a time and a different thing at another time. MORE

Earlier in his address, Nana Boahen, counsel for Sugri and Gyanfo said, "It is unfortunate that the prosecution is trying to appease an angry lion with an innocent lamb."

He said all the four prosecution witnesses, who were at the Gbewaa Palace, in their evidence concluded that they did not know the second accused persons in the case and that the prosecution had miserably failed to establish its case.

Nana Boahen stressed that for his clients to be found guilty of the offence, the prosecution should have proved all the ingredients of the charge.

He said the prosecution was only able to prove that the Ya-Na was dead and everything else was based on speculations.

Nana Boahen noted that prosecution witnesses could not tell the court what caused the death of Ya Na Andani.

He said it was the medical doctor, who said in his evidence that the death was caused by excessive bleeding when the head was cut adding, "the medical doctor was even not consistent with himself."

He contended that it could be possible that he shot himself or he caused someone to shoot him or he was strangled to death.

This, he said, confirmed the investigator's assertion that he did not know who killed Ya-Na Andani and how he was killed.

Counsel submitted that it was clear, therefore, that the accused persons could not be held responsible for the murder, since there was no evidence linking them with the killing of the Ya Na.

Nana Boahen said his clients were facing two charges, which were conspiracy to commit crime, murder. However, having gone into the background of the case, one realised that there was communal violence between the Abudus and Andanis, through which the Ya-Na died.