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Opinions of Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Columnist: Damptey, Daniel Danquah

Death in a police Cell?

Citizen Edward Akoto, aka Ghadhafi is dead. When he left home that early morning on Saturday, 15th November, 2013, little did he know that that was the last time he would see his wife, children and neighbours. He had on the previous Thursday, 13th November, 2013 had a physical struggle with his colleague, one Master Adu. Both of them work at the same mechanic workshop where Master Adu is a welder and Edward was a fitter.
Master Adu had reported that during the exchanges of fisticuffs and upper cuts, Edward Akoto had poked his hands into his eye. He reported the incident to the Police who issued him with a Medical Form to go to the hospital. The workshop is situated at a place very close to the Old Peace FM Station.
On that fateful Saturday, the deceased had gone to charge his phone at a Communication Centre and was returning to the workshop when someone pointed him out to the police as the person they were looking for. A hot chase ensued and within minutes the wanted Ghadhafi had been apprehended, handcuffed and taken to the Mile Seven Police Station.
On Monday, 18th November, 2013, words filtered to family members that Edward Akoto had died at the Police Cell the previous day and that his corpse had been deposited at the mortuary of the Police Hospital.
How come that Edward Akoto, alias Gaddhafi who was taken into police custody hale and hearty should die a day after his arrest? Did he die of natural cause or died as a result of police torture? These and many others are questions bugging the minds of family members.
According to Ansa Sasraku Akoto, a cousin of the deceased, he had gone to the workshop to enquire of his cousin the previous Friday. He met his absence but Master Adu told him that some items had got missing from the workshop and that the suspicion had fallen on his cousin, Edward Akoto. Master Adu further told him he had contacted a Police friend of his working at the Mile Seven Police Station, but the friend was on an assignment in Kumasi. He, Master Adu wanted the Police to put the fear of God into the deceased so that he would desist from his nefarious activities.
So, who is this police friend of the complainant? Did any of the policemen stationed at Mile Seven Station travel to Kumasi one or two weeks before the incident? Does this go to confirm the suspicion that there had been orchestrated plans by the complainant and his police man of a friend to teach the Gaddhafi man a bitter lesson for daring to challenge him (Master Adu) in a physical combat?
Again, Ansa Sasraku Akoto is alleging that the Police went to the workplace of the deceased to ask his colleagues whether the former had suffered from epilepsy before. Why should the Police attempt to use clandestine means to put the cause of death on something not connected with the actual cause?
Again, why did the Police not inform family members of the deceased when they got to know that their ‘captive’ was dead? Why were family members not informed when Gaddhafi was being taken to the hospital? The Police cannot claim they did not know any member of the deceased’s family. If they had gone to the workplace of the deceased the problem could have been solved.
At least, from available information, the deceased had retrieved his phone from where he had gone to recharge it before he was given a hot chase by the Police. So, where is the deceased’s phone? Is it with the Police?
Ansa Sasraku Akoto says that when the family met with the Police Commander, the latter told them he went on a routine visit to the Police Cells and had an interactive session with the deceased. He had asked the deceased where he lived and the latter responded that he lived in a kiosk. On many occasions, the deceased deviated from the topic of discussion and ventured into other irrelevant topics. This the Commander attributed to having taken in some alcohol – a fact family members did not dispute.
But, hey, wait a minute. Why should the Commander introduce such topic during discussion with family members after their ‘captive’ had died in their cells? Was it to make up for their willful and deliberate refusal to inform the family members of the death of their relation? The question of the deceased answering that he lived in a kiosk needs to be interrogated further. We are not ‘mumus as the Police would like to portray the rest of us.
Ansa Sasraku Akoto again alleges that the Commander informed them that the deceased had suddenly fallen ill and when he was informed, he directed that he be taken in a Police Patrol Vehicle to the Police Hospital. Where was the Patrol Car at that moment? Why was he insistent that the deceased be taken in a patrol car and not in any other vehicle? Why did he not call for an Ambulance? Again, many questions.
Was Edward Akoto taken to the Police Hospital dead on arrival? This is a question the Mile Seven Police Officers on duty and those at the Police Hospital need to answer. Was there any entry in the station dairy about the time and how the deceased was put into the patrol car? Who were the police officers on duty at that time? Again who were the officers on duty at the Police Hospital when Edward Akoto was brought there dead or alive?
Again, why are the Police insisting that the autopsy be conducted on Tuesday, 25th November, 2013? Doesn’t it have to be consultation between the Police and the family of the deceased? I have told the family to reject the date until certain conditions are met.
Attempts by journalists from some media houses were unfruitful as they were told the officer in charge of the case was not around during the weekend.
But the big question bothering many Ghanaians is this. How did Citizen Edward Akoto die in a police cell? Family members are demanding an inquest into the death of their member and the Police and the Attorney General’s Department will have to acquiesce to this legitimate and reasonable demand.
Nobody should be shielded. There should be no sacred cow. We demand a public enquiry into the death of this notable son of the country at the hands of the Police. On this we stand.

Ansa Sasraku Akoto and Asare Akoto, both relatives of the deceased could be contacted on these numbers 0273493802 and 0246484837 respectively.
Daniel Danquah Damptey (damptey_daniel) 0243715297