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Diasporian News of Thursday, 20 April 2006

Source: Daily Guide

Amoateng?s Son Speaks

Daily Guide -- Augustine Akwasi Amoateng, the elder son of the embattled MP for Nkoranza North, Hon Eric Amoateng, who is standing trial on drug charges in a United States (US) Court, has declared that, his father was innocent of the allegations and that he would come out unblemished.

?I strongly believe in my dad?s innocence? he confidently told Daily Guide in an exclusive interview at his father?s office in Accra. Augustine Amoateng, 32, an MBA student at Thames Valley University in the United Kingdom, stated that his father?s innocence would be proved at the end of the trial.

Describing the arrest and detention of his father in New York as unfortunate, Augustine said Hon Amoateng has no record of drug case.

According to him, the Nkoranza North MP, whose trial for the drug offence has been slated to begin on May 1, 2006 at a New York Eastern District Court, Brooklyn, was in a high spirit when he visited him, last month.

?His confidence level was higher than what the people have been made to believe. The media in Ghana can publish anything they want, but my father is not the least disturbed.?

?We had a normal discussion for about three hours and his demeanour was normal? he stressed, adding that Hon Amoateng was not missing anything except the service to his people and his family members.

Augustine insisted that his father would weather the storm. He explained that the news of his father?s arrest hit him like a thunderbolt, but as he put it ?life must go on.?

?We have been struck down but not destroyed? said the MP?s son, who is on a three-week holiday to Ghana.

A graduate of University of Ghana, with BSc in Administration, Accounting Option, before proceeding to the UK for his MBA programme, Augustine said he visited the US to have a review meeting with his father and his lawyers who assured him that everything was under control.

?We reviewed the whole case with the lawyers and we are confident of winning the case?, he said.

Mr. Amoateng has engaged the services of two lawyers, Ghanaian born Dennis Adjei-Brenya and John Patten, an experienced criminal lawyer in Manhattan, New York, to battle out the case for him.

The Nkoranza North MP was arrested on November 22 last year, along with his friend Nii Okai Adjei, who had pleaded guilty to the offence of attempting to smuggle and distribute heroin with a street value of over $6 million to the United States.

Both had initially pleaded not guilty to the offence before Nii Okai Adjei changed his plea to guilty, offering to co-operate with the prosecution. He is scheduled to testify for the prosecution when hearing commences on May 1, with a new judge in place. Selection of jury would also take place on that day.

Augustine said the arrest of his father came to him through a voice mail left on his phone by his brother, James Amoateng, a PhD student at York University, UK.

?It was unbelievable. There was a total darkness in our lives. The whole family was disorganised, and his safety became an issue to us?.

?But now we are trying to put things in order. Try to ensure businesses do not go down with his arrest?, he said. He said this was not the first time that his father had found himself in trouble. ?My father has experienced a lot of pains in his attempt to help other people.?

He said Hon Amoateng who had won the Best Farmer Award for the Nkoranza District in the last few years, is a big-time farmer, in addition to other businesses including a construction company.

Augustine hinted that his father has a large mango, cashew and orange farms in his area. His construction firm had also executed road projects in Accra and other parts of the country.

He cited the Odorkor-Official Town road, in Accra, constructed along with another firm in 2003 and another road at Labadi Trade Fair area.

Mr. Amoateng?s son regretted the politicisation of his father?s case, describing it as unfortunate.

?Why do you have to bring the President and the NPP into the matter?? he queried, adding it was time for people to be responsible in the way they discuss issues. However, he said he was not deterred by the comments people make about his father.

?Not the least. My father is in politics to help people? he stated.

The MBA student also showed strong interest in entering politics saying that he was already a registered member of NPP.

?Politics is my hobby?, he said. He cited Hon Isaac Asiamah, MP for Mponua, as one of his contemporaries at the University of Ghana, Legon, when they held the banner of NPP high, at the University. ?I played active role in the 2000 electioneering campaign in the then Nkoranza Constituency before it was divided in 2004?.

He said he has been actively involved in community projects to raise the standard of education in the area. ?Now our efforts are yielding positive results, with students not recording zeros, as was previously the case?, he said. He expressed his gratitude to the people of Nkoranza for their continued support for his father.