You are here: HomeNews2003 07 18Article 39469

General News of Friday, 18 July 2003

Source: GNA

Riad Hoziafeh also calls for lie detector

Accra, July 17, GNA - Mr Riad Hoziafeh, a businessman, on Wednesday endorsed former President Jerry Rawlings' call for the National Reconciliation Commission (NRC) to subject witnesses appearing before it to chemical interrogation and lie detector test.

Mr Hoziafeh, a former worker in the office of the Chairman of the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC), who testified at the Commission said a number of witnesses that had testify there had told lies about him and only a lie detector test and chemical interrogation could expose their "untruths".

He was appearing before the Commission to cross-examine and testify in a case, in which Mr Mohammed Hanny Zahabi, a businessman, had said Mr Hoziafeh led a group of soldiers to arrest, detain and tortured him in 1986.

Mr Zahabi said Mr Hoziafeh sent three of "his boys," some soldiers, named Isaac, Sammy and Baffoe, who arrested and sent him for interrogation, without any charge, at the Striking Force of the Police Headquarters, in Accra.

He told the NRC that he was transferred in the night to the Castle Guardroom where he was beaten with the gun butts.

Mr Zahabi said Mr Hoziafeh filmed the action and asked the soldiers to beat him to scream, as they made what he called "obscene" gestures at him and asked him who his girlfriend was.

He was transferred later from the Castle Guardroom to Police Headquarters and detained for three more days.

Mr Zahabi said following the torture, he underwent treatment at the 37 Military Hospital and had to undergo surgery in London, adding that, Doctors said he had a 25 per cent hearing impairment.

He told the Commission that Mr Hoziafeh, whom he had known since childhood, had been threatening him on phone for bringing case before it.

Mr Zahabi, who said he would never shake hands with Mr Hoziafeh, that Riad sent his boys to collect his passport from the Immigration Service when he was seeking an exit permit for her daughter to receive treatment abroad.

Mr Hoziafeh told the Commission that he had since 1996 taken citizenship of the State of Texas State in the United States of America, because of "so much injustice" in Ghana.

He said Mr Zahabi's arrest was the result of a Ministry of Interior operation to track down foreigners with illegal Ghanaian citizenship, adding that, he knew four Lebanese, including Mr Zahabi, who were arrested.

Mr Hoziafeh denied that he was tortured with gun butts but conceded that Mr Zahabi was slapped and admitted taking pictures in past, but denied filming the beatings, which according to him he received. He said Mr Zahabi deserved the beatings he received at the Castle because he (Zahabi) was a "wife beater" and had annoyed the soldiers because he boasted that he disarmed an army officer.

Riad admitted that having worked with the soldiers, he at times wore military clothes and said he had to dress like the soldiers and cadres that he worked with.

Mr Hoziafeh said he did his best to help establish rule of law in Ghana and was proud of his record, alleging that, the government coached Mr Zahabi to "tell stories about him" at the Commission. He noted that a number of witnesses had told what he called "painful lies" at the Commission, adding that, Mr Zahabi was not molested, but got what he deserved.

General Emmanuel Alexander Erskine, a member of the Commission, recalled the hard times Lebanon had gone through and the contribution of Ghanaians, some of whom died bringing peace to that country. General Erskine, who was a former Commander of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), told Mr Zahabi and Mr Hoziafeh, both with Lebanese origins, that their attitude did not help in promoting peace in Ghana.

He urged the Lebanese community to promote peace in Ghana. The Chairman of the Commission, Justice Kweku Etrew Amua-Sekyi, pointed out that the Commission would draw its conclusions without a lie detector test.