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General News of Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Source: GNA

Order an investigation - Police to Chief Justice

Accra, Dec. 14, GNA - The police administration is petitioning the Chief Justice (CJ) to institute an immediate investigation into the circumstances that led to the re-testing of the cocaine that transformed into Sodium Bicarbonate (Washing Soda) after certification by police forensic laboratory.

Mr Prosper Kwame Ablor, Director General of Police Criminal Investigation Department (CID) briefing the media in Accra on Wednesday, said the police administration was appalled by the court's decision that warranted an immediate investigation into the matter.

Mr Ablor who said the police administration was not to apportion blame to any party involved in the case but rather to set the records straight explained that the police after arresting Nana Ama Martin, “The chain of custody” rule was duly followed and evidence tendered in court without objection from the accused counsel.

He said on August 22, 2008, Nana Ama Martin was arrested with a lady’s bag containing one slab of whitest substance suspected to be cocaine and that the exhibit was examined the next day at the police forensic laboratory, which was tested positive for cocaine with a net weight of 1,018.57 grammes.

Mr Ablor said Nana Ama Martin appeared before Circuit Court ‘1’ presided over by Mr Kyei Baffour on a charge of possessing narcotic drug without lawful authority and was remanded into custody.

He said though such narcotic cases were not to be bailed, the police administration was again appalled when after several adjournments in the case, Nana Ama Martin was granted bail and jumped that bail to travel to the United States of America.

Mr Ablor said while the trial was going on her counsel filed a motion for bail at High Court ‘4’and the application for bail in the sum of GH¢60, 000 was granted with two sureties one to be justified.

He said while waiting for the execution of the bail, the case was called on the September 27, 2011 where the investigator gave evidence and tendered the exhibit in court.

Mr Ablor said the sealed exhibit was shown to the court and the defence counsel raised no objection and it was admitted in evidence.

He said when the case was called on September 27, 2011 and on the orders of the court, the forensic laboratory seals were broken and the exhibit handed over to the court while the case was adjourned to September 28, 2011 for cross examination of the investigator.

Mr Ablor said the trial resumed on September 28, 2011 and a surprise to the police administration was the defence counsel who raised no objection at the time the seal was broken but this time raised an objection that the evidence, which was earlier admitted to be cocaine was not cocaine.

He said the unsealed exhibit was brought from the custody of the court and the judge ordered for sample to be taken and sent to the Ghana Standards Board (GSB) for re-examination.

The court clerk according to Mr Ablor took the sample and handed over to the court registrar to keep and on September 29, 2011, on the orders of the court the registrar accompanied by the investigator sent the sample to GSB for the re-examination.

He said on November 22, 2011, the analysis from the police forensic science laboratory and that of the GSB appeared in court, which the GSB analysis proved negative and the police maintained its earlier test was authentic.

Mr Ablor said the police administration could not therefore guarantee whether the sample taken to the GSB was the one the police tendered in court since the substance had been in the sole court’s custody after which the sample was taken.

Mr Akrasi Sarpong, Executive Secretary of Narcotics Control Board (NACOB), said the Board had confidence in the police administration in terms of fighting the drug menace and that measures should be taken to ensure the proper thing was done.

He said it was a pity that the police would make frantic efforts to arrest offenders of the law for such efforts to be frustrated at the law courts and that NACOB would also institute an investigation into the matter to unravel the mystery.

Mr Sarpong said due process was not taken before the sample was taken to GSB for examination indicating that per the procedure the police had to write a letter to GSB to examine the substance and claimed that such procedure was not followed.

Meanwhile, Vice President John Dramani Mahama has ordered for an investigation into the matter.