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General News of Saturday, 19 November 2011

Source: Daily Graphic

Sentence Too Harsh For Students

Four individuals have expressed shock at the sentences handed to two students of the Keta Business High School for robbery and indicated that they will appeal against the sentences.

They stated that the verdict of the circuit court was harsh and excessive, contending that in the circumstance that an accused person was not represented by counsel, the burden lay on the judge to act as counsel in a criminal trial.

The petitioners are the Members of Parliament (MPs) for Keta and Anlo, Messrs Lassey Agbenyefia and Kofi Humado, respectively, as well as Messrs Kobla Senu and Chris Ackummey, both lawyers.

They told the Daily Graphic that the honourable judge should have explained to the juveniles, who were first offenders, the consequence of their pleas.

They were of the view that the charge preferred against the convicts should have been “stealing” and not “robbery”, as there was no evidence to suggest that the lady in question had been robbed.

“Consideration should have been given to the age, environment and prevailing circumstances before handing that harsh sentence to the teenage students,” they said.

The Daily Graphic had, in its Wednesday, November 16, 2011 edition, carried a story which said in part, “Two third-year students of the Keta Business Senior High School are to spend a total of 60 years in prison after being convicted of conspiracy and robbery by the Aflao Circuit Court.

“The convicts, Jeff Hope Dotse, 20, and Emmanuel Nartey, 19, were convicted on their own plea and each sentenced to 30 years for robbery and five years for conspiracy to run concurrently.

“About midnight on November 6, 2011, Martha Senadzu, a seamstress apprentice at Tegbi, was returning from a fun session as part of the Hogbetsotso Festival and was attacked by the convicts and her cell phone taken from her.”

Mr Ackummey, who acted as spokesperson for the four, argued that some policemen were in the habit of wrongly advising suspects to plead guilty so that a judge could deal leniently with them, adding, “In this particular case, the police might have asked them to plead guilty without knowing the repercussion.”

“We are on our way to Aflao to apply for the record of proceedings to enable us to proceed on the appeal and ensure that justice prevails,” he said.