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General News of Wednesday, 27 July 2016

Source: Class FM

Montie 3: 4-month jail term was unexpected – Adom-Otchere

Ghanaian broadcaster Paul Adom-Otchere has described the jailing of the three Montie FM contemnors, Alistair Nelson, Godwin Ako Gunn, and Salifu Maase, aka Mugabe, by the Supreme Court, as unfortunate, adding that the four-month imprisonment handed them was not expected.

The apex court on Wednesday July 27 handed a four-month jail term to each of the three men in addition to a fine of GHS10,000 each.

Nelson and Gunn threatened to kill justices of the court when they spoke on a political programme called Pampaso, hosted by Mugabe, on June 29, 2016 as they discussed a court case involving the PNC’s Abu Ramadan and the Electoral Commission regarding the credibility and sanctity of the register of voters as far as the existence on the roll of people who registered with their National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS) cards was concerned.

The two discussants warned the judges to deliver a favourable judgment on the matter or risk suffering the same fate (extrajudicial execution) meted out to three of their forebears in 1982 during the PNDC junta of Flt Lt Jerry John Rawlings.

They were cited for contempt of court and subsequently found guilty, prior to Wednesday’s sentencing.

Apart from the three, the owners of the station including Mr Harry Zakkour, who is also the second vice-chairman of the governing National Democratic Congress, as well as Mr Edward Addo, Ato Ahwoi, and Kwesi Kyei Atuah have been fined GHS30,000 each. They are to pay the fine by the end of Thursday July 28. The owners have also been asked by the Supreme Court to submit policy documents spelling out how to forestall similar happenings in the future.

They have also been asked to ensure that none of their media outlets will be used to scandalise the court or bring it into disrepute.

Reacting to the sentencing on Class News, Mr Adom-Otchere said: “… It’s an unfortunate situation. Anytime anyone is jailed regardless of the offence the person may have committed, it is worrying because the person is going to be segregated from the regular life of a human being and that’s punishing for anyone. But in terms of the media landscape and how things are going to turn out, the comments that were made were sufficiently [inappropriate] coming on the back of history of judges being captured in their homes and eliminated some 30 years ago, and it is also coming on the [eve] of the anniversary of that event, it was quite frightening.”

The host of Good Evening Ghana on Metro TV noted that the four-month jail term was a surprise as contemnors were usually sentenced to a month in prison.

“The contemnors have expressed their disappointment and regret during their last hearing. It was expected that that will sufficiently mitigate the final sentencing; apparently it didn’t and so we are where we are. But we are sad for our colleagues who have to go to prison at this time when there is a lot of exciting work to be done, covering elections, which is one of the exciting parts of any journalist’s work. We have seen contemnors being held for one month, but that is what we are used to. During the criminal libel law the people who were held for contempt were held for a month and so it was expected that the worst case scenario will be one month; four months was not expected,” he noted.

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