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Opinions of Sunday, 27 July 2008

Columnist: Atugiya, David

Tsatsu Tsikata Deserves Justice

The continuous incarceration of Mr Tsatsu Tsikata is a disturbing phenomenon and an affront to justice. Before I advance my argument further, let me make it abundantly clear that the issues raised in this piece are not about whether or not Mr Tsikata was or is guilty or innocent of the offences for which he was sentence to 5 years in prison on 18 June 2008. The guiltiness or innocence of Mr Tsikata is something I will prefer to leave to my legal friends and the courts to determine.

As a human rights and social justice campaigner 1 am seriously concern about the way the justice system in Ghana sometimes work. I have followed the case of Mr Tsikata keenly over the last 6 year in the Fast Track Court presided over by Mrs Justice Henrietta Abban; and the furore that followed the judgement and the sentence that was handed down; and strongly believe Tsatsu Tsikata deserves justice.

Any right thinking person with a conscience, without sounding offensive to anyone reading this article will frown upon the hastiness with which the trial judge Mrs Justice Abban delivered her verdict and sentence to Mr Tsikata.

Mr Tsikata, whether a legal guru or not, a President of Ghana or not has a fundamental right to a fair trail and that include exploring or exploiting all the options available to him in his defence in a case of which he has been accused of wilfully causing financial loss to the state and misappropriating public property. The argument advanced by the trial judge and some legal minds that Tsatsu was abusing the court process and hence the hastiness of judgement, smacks of justice and abuse of power. The trial judge in her summing up (I stand corrected) did not indicate or illustrate instances of Mr Tsikata’s abuse of court process. Mr Tsikata was merely exercising his legal rights as enshrine in the constitution and therefore his hopping from one court to another in seeking justice cannot be misinterpreted as unnecessarily spinning the court process.

What really sent cold through my spine or tipped me to the edge of the Ghanaian judicial system and the injustice I felt and continue to feel in Tiskata’s case, was with the trial judge's decision not to have adjourned proceedings but proceeded to deliver judgment when Tsikata's counsel was not in court. I have served in the jury and also observed serious criminal cases in courts in the UK and have never seen such a bazaar twist to legal or court proceeding like this. The trial proceedings on 18 June 2008 was not only grossly unfair, a disgrace to the Judiciary and the legal profession but also an infringement upon Tsikata’s fundamental human rights. Justice therefore in the case of Tsatsu was not seen to be done. Ghana and Tsatsu Tsikata deserves better from our Judiciary.

David Atugiya Chairman of UK Ghana Human Rights Committee