Sports News of Thursday, 10 April 2003

Source: gna

Herbert Mensah testifies in court

Herbert Amponsah Mensah, former chairman of the Asante Kotoko Football Club, on Wednesday told an Accra High Court that there was tension between supporters of his club and Accra Hearts of Oak before the Stadium Disaster because supporters were not happy with the result.

Led in evidence by Anthony Gyambiby, Principal State Attorney, he told the court, trying six senior police officers for the disaster, which claimed 127 lives, that after the match, he accompanied his team to the dressing room. Hearts of Oak won the match 2-1.

He said it was in the dressing room that a prison officer informed him that there was confusion between supporters of the two clubs. According to him, when he came out from the dressing room he saw fans at the Ade Coker stand jumping towards a narrow entrance.

Mensah said he also saw smoke in the air while some of the fans were screaming and running for their lives. He said since the entrance was very narrow, most of the fans were choked at the entrance, which was smeared with blood.

The former chairman said he took another entrance to the back of the narrow gate and rescued more than 20 fans. He could not immediately say if they were dead. Witness said he telephoned General Joshua Hamidu, Adviser on National Security, and reported the matter to him.

According to him, Jake Obetsebi-Lamptey, the then Minister for Information and Presidential Affairs, arrived with ambulances. He told the court that he would not be in a position to identify any of the six officers on trial in court.

The officers on trial are John Asare Naami, Faakyi Kumi, Frank Awuah, Francis Aryee, Benjamin B. Bakomora, all Assistant Superintendents of Police and Chief Superintendent of Police, Koranteng Mintah.

They have pleaded not guilty to 127 counts of manslaughter and are on 20 million cedis bail each with two sureties. During cross-examination by Yonni Kulendi, counsel for first accused, witness said it was difficult for him to say what really triggered the firing of the tear gas.

Witness agreed with counsel that most of the lights at the stadium had then been put off. Earlier, Jonathan Truly Hemeng, a Metro TV cameraman, tendered a video tape in evidence but Kulendi objected to it saying, "I cannot see anything on it."

Counsel prayed the court to show the tape to enable defence and the court to establish its authenticity. The court, presided over by Justice Yaw Appau upheld the motion and fixed Thursday for screening of the tape.