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General News of Friday, 24 July 2009

Source: GNA

Tagor, Abbas acquitted and discharged

The Court of Appeal (CA) on Friday acquitted and discharged Kwabena Amaning aka Tagor and Alhaji Issah Abass, both businessmen, who were jailed 15 years each on drug related offences. On November 28, 2007, the Fast Track High Court (FTHC) presided over by Mr. Justice Victor Jones Dotse, now a Supreme Court judge, found them guilty for conspiracy, engaging in prohibited business relating to narcotic drugs.

The Court, however, acquitted and discharged Tagor for buying and supplying narcotic drugs.

It also found Abass, 54, guilty for conspiracy and engaging in prohibited business relating to narcotic drugs. The court, however, acquitted and discharged him on charges of supplying narcotic drugs. The Court of Appeal's three-member panel, chaired by Mr Justice Peasare, ordered the immediate release of Tagor and Abass who had each spent a year and seven months in prison.

Other members of the panel were Mr Justice Yaw Appau and Mr Justice Addo.

The CA held that particulars of the charges preferred against them were defective and the prosecution woefully failed to establish the offences against them.

It held that the prosecution could not state where and the date on which the appellants committed the offences and that the prosecution's failure to state that created gabs in the evidence. CA described the judgment as a cancerous tumour that should be flushed and erased from the legal system. It noted that the trial judge erred when he overruled a submission of no case and called on the appellants (Tagor and Abass) to open their defense. The CA questioned why the prosecution failed to call Mr Kofi Boakye, Assistant Commissioner of Police, as a witness in the case. It said the prosecution failed to lead evidence to establish the whereabouts of the said 76 parcels of cocaine on board the MV Benjamin Vessel.

The CA held that carting of the said 76 parcels was based on rumours and that assertion was admitted by a prosecution witness who told the court during the trial that he heard about the incident. It said the whereabouts of the 76 parcels of cocaine remained a mystery as the Georgina Wood Committee established to investigate the circumstances surrounding the missing parcels "hit on the rocks." On the cassette which was dropped at the Georgina Wood Committee, the committee was unable to indicate who anonymously dropped the cassette.

The Court said: "No evidence on the said cassette could support the charge against them and we are surprised that the trial judge held that the cassette was from an authentic source." Citing the meeting held between Tagor, Abass and Kofi Boakye, the court described the recorded conversation as a private one and a move by Kofi Boakye to clear his anxiety and name. It said Kofi Boakye, the then Director in Charge of Operations of the Ghana Police Service, was desperate in clearing his name that had been linked to the 76 missing parcels of cocaine. "The appellants could not have conspired by stating that they agreed to reap the benefits of the cocaine."

The CA said: "He (Boakye) was right in adopting lawful and unlawful means to establish the source of the 76 parcels of cocaine. The said conversation could not be termed as a confession statement." According to the court the offence of conspiracy and other charges could not hold as they could not establish the source of the missing cocaine.

It rubbished prosecution's claims that because they agreed to look for the source of the drugs, they had conspired to commit the crime.

It further rubbished the prosecution's assertion that Tagor had sold 100 kilogrmmes of cocaine and gone for payment in Holland. "Prosecution could not prove that such transactions took place." It said the referral to "the goods or things" in local dialect as cocaine constituted local jargon which could not be supported by law. On the investigations into the matter, it wondered how the investigator of the case managed to convince the court that in the underworld the "keys" or "goods" referred to cocaine.

"This court finds this assertion strange. Who is there in the underworld to have given those meaning to the investigator? Prosecution should have put that person from cocaine underworld into the dock."

Soon after the judgment relations of Tagor and Abass could not hide their happiness by embracing each other.

Others shook hands with Tagor and Abass. However Prison officers prevented relations from interacting with them.

They were however escorted under tight security to board a prison vehicle to sign documents on their release.

The prosecution called 11 witnesses while the defence team called four. The case of the prosecution was that the accused were self-confessed drug barons who, since 2004, had been actively engaged in activities of promoting and establishing various enterprises relating to narcotic drug.

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