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General News of Wednesday, 7 January 2004

Source: GNA

Soldiers beat me severely - Witness

Accra, Jan 7, GNA - Mr Emmanuel Asante, a Witness at the National Reconciliation Commission on Wednesday said soldiers beat him and threatened to execute him after seizing his four boxes of cigarette at Kyingari, near Kete Krachie in December 1980.

He said the beating made him sick for three months and that although the country was then under a constitutional rule, he was afraid and did not report the brutalities meted out to him because the military still lurked under the then government.

The Witness, who described himself as a trader in cigarette and other provisions, said he was conveying four cartons of cigarette, which he had bought in Accra, to Asukawkaw to be ferried on the Red Volta to Kyingari.

He said soon after he had got to Asukawkaw, the soldiers, numbering about 16, arrived in a vehicle, and said they were arrested him for possessing four boxes of cigarette.

Mr Asante said after ordering him to load the cigarette onto their vehicle, the soldiers beat him severely, pounding his head with the butt of their weapons, leaving deep cuts on his skull.

"Blood dripped all over my body, I had scars all over my body, yet they continued to beat me until my trousers were torn.

"Some of them used their boots to graze my shin. On seeing my condition, my woman who was the pregnant had a shock and miscarried", Mr Asante said and added that the woman later could not conceive again and this resulted in a divorce.

He said the soldiers took him to a collapsed building site, stripped him to his pants, and threatened to execute him. He said they later took him to Jasikan, and when he refused a suggestion from one of them to stop pressing for his boxes of cigarette, they intensified the beating.

The Witness said the soldiers sent him to the Menuso Border Post, took 6,000 cedis he was having on him and had him detained. He said he was detained for more than 10 days during which he was drilled, and made to carry a bag of cocoa beans and sometimes made to crawl on gravel.

Mr Asante said he was later released after a military Captain at the Post discovered that the cigarette for which he was arrested was locally manufactured.

He said he never had neither his cigarette not his money back. Mr Asante said in 1983, the Coordinator of the local Committee for the Defence of the Revolution, one Mr Amartey, led eight armed people to arrest him in the night, but he escaped and they arrested his wife. He said they took away from his room 160,000 cedis he had brought from his mother to be used in paying for a vehicle and some goods. He said they took his wife to Kyingari Police Station and then to the Kete Krachie Police Station but later brought her back. Mr Asante said he later fled to Kyingari and to Basa where he exiled for four months.

He admitted that the events had made him headstrong and that he would find it difficult to forgive when offended. However, he indicated that he felt relieved after telling his story to the Commission and appealed to soldiers and people in authority to treat their subjects humanely.

Mr Samuel Boateng Asare, another Witness, complained that a bomb blast in 1961 at the Children's Hospital in Accra injured him on the forehead.

He prayed the Commission to help him get compensation for the injuries as well as for an injury, which made him blind in one eye when he was working as a driver's mate with the Ghana Food Distribution Corporation (GFDC).

Mr Asare also asked to be paid the difference of 12 years' service entitlement from the GFDC short of what was paid him.

Another Witness, Mr John Ephraim Kwakye, a former Manager of the Ghana National Trading Corporation also appealed for the de-confiscation of his plot of land at East Legon.