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Opinions of Thursday, 14 April 2011

Columnist: Atugiya, David

Ya-Na Trial Judgement: Leave Judge Ayebi Alone

Any human rights activist or social justice campaigner is likely to express concern or condemn the vilification of His Lordship Justice E. K. Ayebi following his acquittal and discharge of the 15 suspects in the trial of the murder of the Ya- Na Andani II on 29th March 2011. The furore that followed and the orchestrated attacks at Justice Ayeribi by a few disgruntled elements within the society amount in my view to the human rights violations of the trial Judge.
While one cannot afford not to condemn the gruesome killing of the Dagon King which lead to the call for the perpetrators of the heinous crime to be brought to book, it is imperative for all peace and democratic loving people of the world over to rise up against any attempt by the vociferous minonty to have their way in this case at all cost.

I am at pains, to understand what the hell that Justice Ayebi has done that some people are calling for his head.

Just as we are all rightly clamouring for justice for the murder of the Y-a Na, we should equally be seen to be demanding for fair trial and justice for any person or group of persons accused of his killing.

On the other hand no matter how some Ghanaians were or are disappointed in the acquittal and discharge of the 15 suspects in the trial of the murder of the Dagon King, to hop from one radio station to the other radio or mount political platforms to attack or threaten the life of Justice Ayebi for his judgement. The constitution of Ghana guarantee’s the right of Justice Ayebi to dispense justice in our law courts according to law and based on facts and evidence. It also guarantee’s the accused persons in this case to a fair trial. So any attempts to circumvent this will be a serious breach of the constitution and an affront to justice.

It’s clear the trial Judge based his judgement on the Ya- Na’s case on the interpretation of the law relating to the crime that the 15 suspects were accused of and the evidence present by the prosecution in the cause of the trial. The charges of conspiracy to murder and murder preferred against the accused were based on circumstantial evidence. Those of us who have served in the Jury service know too well that the burden of proof in cases based on circumstantial evidence is high and in most of the cases especially criminal cases, are very difficult to establish or proof.

Having read the judgment of Justice Ayebi thoroughly and dispassionately, sadly, one comes to the conclusion that the prosecution lost its case from day one, unless I missed something in the judgement. Those of you know the writer knows he is not a fun of the NPP; but for the government to lose this case so spectacularly as they did and blame it on the so called NPP packed judges in the judiciary service; smacks of hypocrisy and double standards of the highest order. In making this charge one recalls the trial and subsequent conviction of people like Dan Abodakpi, Kwame Peprah, Ibrahim Adam, George Sepah-Yankey and Tsatsu Tsikata for causing financial loss to the State during the Kufour’s administration; and the out cry and attacks of injustice some of which were misplaced that came from some members of the NDC party then in opposition.

It defies logic that the prosecution in assembling its evidence for a criminal case of this magnitude could not be conclusive in the death of the victim and expects the trial to continue.

One asks how any normal or reasonable thinking person could expect the trial judge to have proceeded with the trial when a prima facie case in the trial could not be established beyond all reasonable doubt? This was what the prosecution failed woefully to establish and therefore left the trial judge with no option than to acquit and discharge 15 suspects.

Some people may disagree with me and others who are convinced that Justice Ayebi made the right judgement, which they are entitled to, but this does not give any person or group of persons the right to threaten one’s life or incite violence against people who hold different views on the Judgement. Neither is it acceptable for ill informed, mischievous and political opportunists to attack the trial Judge for purely and simply carrying out his constitutional obligation.
The Ya-Na’s murder trial with all humility should be acknowledged and accepted by all including the aggrieved parties that, it was shabbily and poorly handled by the Attorney General’s department. And therefore the Attorney General should take personal responsibility for the lack of conclusive and convincing evidence presented in the cause of the trial and the subsequent acquittal of the 15 suspects.

My sincere plea to all the war mongers and opportunists in this case is to leave Justice Ayebi alone. Rather they should join the call for proper evidence to be gathered for a fresh trial as the way forward; in securing a conviction for the horrific murder of the Dagon King, Ya-Na Andani II, which has become a stain in the conscience of the nation.
David Atugiya

The writer is the Chair of Ghana Human Rights Committee-UK, a Social Justice Campaigner, Finance and Management Consultant.

PS. The views expressed in this article are that of the author and does not in any way represent the views of Ghana Human Rights Committee-UK