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Crime & Punishment of Friday, 17 September 2010

Source: GNA

Court orders Defence to authenticate proceedings document

Accra, Sept. 17, GNA - The Fast Track High Court, presided over by

Mr. Justice E.K Ayebi on Friday, ordered the defence in the Ya Na trial to

authenticate a document, which they claim was a copy of the

proceedings from the Wuaku Commission of Enquiry. The order followed an earlier objection raised by Mr. Anthony

Rexford Wiredu, a Principal State Attorney, that the Defence cannot use

the document to cross-examine Mr. Imrana Saibu, the third Prosecution

Witness, because the material has not been validated by the rightful

people. Fourteen persons are on trial for their alleged involvement in the

assassination of Ya-Na Andani, the overlord of Dagbon, and 30 others in

March 2002. They have all pleaded not guilty to the charges of conspiracy to

murder and murder. The accused persons are; Mohammed Habib Tijani, Former Yendi

District Chief Executive (DCE); Iddrisu Iddi, 76; Alhaji Baba Iddrisu

Abdulai, 54; Kwame Alhassan, 53; and Mohammadu Abdulai, 57. The others are Saibu Mohammed, 34; Alhassan Mohammed Briamah,

40; Alhassan Ibrahim; Mohammed Mustapha and Sani Moro. The rest are Yakubu Usifu; Ahmed Abukari; Abdul Razak Usifu and

Alhassan Braimah. One Zakaria Forest, the man alleged to have decapitated the head

and hands of the Ya Na is at large. Mr. Rexford Wiredu in his submissions argued that, though the

prosecution has seen the signature of Professor Kwesi Yankah, who was

a member of the Wuaku Commission on the document, he was not

entitled to sign it. He said the rightful person to have signed and certified the document

was Mr. Wiredu Preprah, who replaced Mrs Regina Apotsi and Mr G.K

Owu, who were secretaries to the Commssion and are both deceased. Mr. Rexford Wiredu also argued that the document tendered in

evidence by the Defence was just a reproduction of the original and

therefore should bear the stamp of certification, but it did not. He said the third prosecution witness which the Defence sought to

tender the document through was not the Secretary to the Commission

and also not the one who authored the document and as such could not

answer questions from it. He suggested that the portion of the document ascribed to the

Witness, could be extracted and question him (witness) on it. Mr. Rexford Wiredu also stated that the source of the document, which the Defence claim was from the State publisher, was not true. He said his own checks at the place, on Sept. 16, 2002, indicted that, the publisher only printed the Commission's final report but not copies of the proceedings. Mr. Philip Addison, lead Counsel for the Defense, in his statement, expressed surprise at the Attorney General's (AG) objection, because the said material was a public document. He said the Commission's Report, which the Prosecution was relying on to prosecute their case, was only signed by the three Commissioners and have not been authenticated by the signature and stamp of the

Secretary to the Commission. Mr. Addison stated that he was one of the Counsels for the Abudus at the Wuaku Commission, where copies of the proceedings were distributed to Commissioners and Counsels of both sides. He said copies of the proceedings in print, audio, video and pictures

were handed over to the government. He said all Commission's of Enquiry, including the Ghana @50, when

presenting their findings to government, would include the proceedings

in print, audio, video and pictures. Mr. Addison argued that the rules of the Court allow the Defense to tender the material in evidence and if the Prosecution has its own copy, it can be used to contradict it. He said Mr. Ibrahim Mahama, a lawyer and adviser to the late Ya Na

in his book entitled: "The murder of an African King" had made

extensive reference to the Commission's proceedings in his work. Mr. Addison said he got his copies from the same Prof. Yankah, who

the Prosecution claimed was not authorized to sign the document. He said the reason why the Defence was tendering the document was

because, the Prosecution claim that they do not have copies of the

materials, which he said, would be to their benefit. He said the document was relevant to the trial and there are several ways of authenticating it, as well as using it to test the credibility of the Witness. The facts presented by the Prosecution was that sometime in March

2002, the Ya-Na and some of his Elders were killed following a clash between the two royal gates in Dagbon - Abudus and Andanis. After the clash, Idrissu Gyamfo and Yidana Sugri were arrested and prosecuted for the alleged murder but they were acquitted and

discharged. The Government in a fresh attempt to find the murderers conducted a dawn swoop at Yendi during, which 41 persons were rounded up. After screening them in Bimbilla, 33 were granted self-recognisance bail, while the rest were taken to Accra. Subsequently others were

arrested and they were arraigned. The case has been adjourned to September 27, 2010.