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General News of Tuesday, 13 December 2005

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Amoateng formally pleads not guilty

The MP for Nkoranza North, Eric Amoateng, has formally pleaded NOT guilty to the charges of drug trafficking in an American court.

The MP is being tried along with an alleged accomplice, Nii Okang Adjei.

They were both arrested last month for allegedly importing heroine with a street value of six million dollars into the United States.

After the court took his plea, the case was adjourned to January 23.

Here is JOYNEWS correspondent, Kofi Abotsi's report.

? For those of us who know him as a Ghanaian legislator felt very, very, sad for a man like that to be brought in court in that state. His lawyer earlier told us that he had sent him some warm clothing. But he didn?t appear in them, he was in Khaki shorts and shirt and looked very unkempt.

There were three lawyers in the court. The earlier lawyer Mark Owen, appeared as the State Attorney and when Amoateng was arrested. There was also Nii Okai Adjei lawyer.

We have also been reliably informed that Eric Amoateng has requested that another lawyer handle the case for him. But like I said Dennis Brenyah (Lawyer for Amoateng) is working on the case.

Now what took place at the Court was a very brief exchange of materials found by the American government in the process of establishing that the two were actually found in a certain activity. That was a recording made when the two were arrested.

The tapes have been handed over to the two lawyers (that is lawyers for Amoateng and Nii Okai Adjei). They are going to spend between now and January 23 to study the materials on the tape and then react to them.

The lawyers also told the Judge that any evidence or statement they made was not under duress and that they themselves made their own statements and I also saw Mr Eric Amoateng endorsing the very statement that he made.

Let me reiterate that the two (Eric Amoateng and Nii Okai Adjei) didn?t look kept at all, the other guy (Nii Okai Adjei?s) face looked a bit swollen and Eric Amoateng looked like, excuse me ? a small boy?,? he said.