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Diasporian News of Wednesday, 19 March 2008

Source: Ghanaian Chronicle

36,000 Euros Burgled At Embassy in Rome

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Regional Integration and Nepad, Akwasi Osei Adjei, has disclosed that 36,000 Euro recovered from a suspect at the centre of the burglary incidence at the consular section of the embassy in Italy, would be confisticated to the host state.

He added that investigations conducted revealed that an ex employee of the embassy, Mr. Leeford Stanley Laryea, on the basis of intelligence gathered was responsible for the burglary.

The minister said this in parliament yesterday, when he was responding to a question on the state of the reported burglary of the Ghana embassy in Italy.

He stated that the ministry had summoned the Italian Ambassador in Ghana to forcibly impress on him to intervene with his home authorities, to set up meetings with the embassy staff to resolve all outstanding issues, including the return to Ghana of the full amount of money seized from the culprit.

He added that on December 11, 2007, the embassy learnt that a court in Rome had convicted Mr. Laryea and issued him a 16 months suspended sentence but later released him.

Considering the gravity of the theft, and the lenient manner with which the court had handled the matter, the embassy sent a note verbale to the Italian foreign ministry protesting against the court's handling of the issue.

The minister explained that the embassy requested the Italian foreign ministry for assistance, to obtain a review of the case and sought audience for further discussions on the matter.

Hon. Akwasi Osei Adjei noted that police search at the residence of Mr. Laryea found 248 blank passport booklets, embassy of Ghana stamps, 9000 Euros and 1,550 dollars cash, 8 new cell phones and 11 Ghanaian passport booklets fraudulently issued.

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According to him, investigations into the incident revealed that properties belonging to the government of Ghana had been destroyed and stolen.

Specific findings included loss of an amount of 33,000 Euros being consular fees covering 19th to 22nd March, 2007, pilfering of a total of 375 blank passports, 69 dual citizenship application forms were partially burnt and cash theft of an amount of 3,000 euros.

The consular section of Ghana's embassy in Rome was burgled and set on fire on 23 March 2007. The embassy sought the assistance of the Italian fire service to put out the fire which in their estimation was caused by arson. Subsequently, the incidence was brought to the attention of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Italian police authorities as well as the ministry of foreign affairs and regional integration in Ghana.

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