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General News of Thursday, 23 October 2003

Source: GNA

NRC Chairman bars audience from sitting behind the Commissioners

Accra, Oct. 23, GNA - Mr Justice Kweku Etrew Amua-Sekyi, Chairman of the National Reconciliation Commission, on Thursday ordered that nobody should be allowed to sit in the northern section of the public gallery of the Old Parliament House, during the Commission's public hearings.

He said the audience must be restricted to the southern section so that he could see people who laugh when witnesses are giving out their testimonies, which should rather evoke sympathy.

Chairman Amua-Sekyi gave the order when there were sustained giggles from the northern gallery as Mr Abdul Rahman Obeng, a witness from Assin Nsuta narrated the ordeals some policemen and a soldier meted out to him in 1982.

The northern gallery is behind the sitting place the Chairman and the other members of the Commission.

Mr Obeng said he was on his way to attend a gathering announced by the chief of the town when the policemen and soldier ordered him to join a group of people they were drilling for being late to the meeting. He said after joining them, the soldier ordered them to lie on their backs and gaze at the sun.

Mr Obeng said the soldier kicked him when he looked else where, and occasionally dipped the nozzle of his weapon into his nostrils and ordered him up.

According to Mr Obeng, there were 14 people in the group that was molested; each was asked to slap the other seven times. He said for not slapping his pairing, an elderly man, hard enough, the soldier gave him (Obeng) seven slaps followed by another seven on the exemplified by the soldier.

After the slaps, he said he bled from his nose and the soldier ordered him to sit down.

Mr Obeng said he felt very sick after the incident, feeling dizzy most of the time until now. He said the father of the late Justice Cecilia Koranteng Addo bore his medical bills.

He said as a result of his ill health, he could not plant cocoa seedlings he had nursed at that time. He could also not tender well the few he planted because he became too weak to farm.

Mr Obeng said his plight had negatively affected his children' education, as the two older ones had to take care of the farm. He prayed the Commission for appropriate redress. Meanwhile, Chairman has announced that the Commission would hold in-camera hearing next week. It would resume with the public sittings on Monday, November 3.