5,888kg cocaine case:No A-G Department’s staff was in Bolivia

IT has emerged that no official from the Attorney-General’s Department was in Bolivia as purported by the police, in the alleged shipping of 5,888 kilogrammes of cocaine from Bolivia to Burkina Faso involving two Ghanaians.

“My Lord, let me state on record that no official has travelled to Bolivia for any investigations concerning this case for which the Attorney-General had been lashed in the media. We heard that information but don’t know where it emanated from,” Mrs. Rebecca Achianu, a Senior State Attorney, yesterday told the Circuit Court presided over by Justice Francis Obiri, a High Court judge, sitting with additional responsibility.

These came to light yesterday when Justice Obiri inquired from Mrs. Achianu who the purported State Attorneys who travelled to Bolivia are.

Justice Obiri consequently summoned Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Abraham Annor, who informed the court of the State Attorneys’ absence at the court’s last sitting.

Meanwhile, the reason for their absence in court still remains unknown.

DSP Annor said: “My Lord, I received a call from an officer at the BNI that they were travelling to Bolivia and I in turn communicated the message to the court,” he said.

It was not clear who was telling the court the truth as both the State Attorney and the police prosecutor stood their grounds.

At the last adjourned date, DSP Annor told the court that two State Attorneys from the A-G’s Department, the investigator and officials from the Bureau of National Investigations, had travelled to Bolivia to confer with the authorities there, hence their absence.

Thereafter, the defence filed an application for bail pending trial but, Mrs. Achianu objected to the application on the premise that it was premature and for the fact that the Circuit Court had no jurisdiction to grant the accused bail.

Mrs. Achianu cited Articles 14(4) and 19(2) c of the 1992 Constitution which the defence sought to rely on for bail as flawed, adding that Article 14(4) could only be invoked by a higher court.

On Article 19(2) c she said the defence had not been able to cite any instance of unreasonable delay warranting bail for the accused.

She said pieces of information gathered in the course of investigations indicated that the accused knew something about the said substance.

“My Lord, we have taken custody of the first accused’s laptop, mobile phones and same would be examined forensically. My Lord, we have ample evidence about their involvement and would furnish the court with same very soon,” she said.

It is the case of the prosecution that the chronology of events in Bolivia implicated the accused and therefore should not be granted bail because the charge preferred against them is non-bailable.

Her argument was, however, opposed by Mr. E- Owusu Fordwouh and Jerry Avenogbor, the defence counsel who argued that the facts did not support the charge.

Mr. Owusu-Fordwouh said the prosecution had failed to tell the court the offence of the accused.

He said for the court to deny the accused bail, the substance ought to have been tested scientifically and failing to do so would amount to the curtailment of the fundamental human rights of the accused.

Ruling on the application, Justice Obiri held that the court had jurisdiction to hear the matter because Article 14(4) was explicit and no provision of the said article stated it was only the high court that could handle a case of that nature.

The case has been adjourned to April 20.

By Malik Sullemana    

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