An Accra Circuit Court on Tuesday convicted the three Yemen nationals, who entered Ghana with fake French passports, to a fine of GH¢4, 800.00 each (400 penalty units each), after they had changed their earlier plea of not guilty, to guilty through an interpreter.
In default, they would serve three months prison term with hard labour.
The court ordered the Ghana Immigration Service to destroy the fake passports in the presence of the Court Registrar three months after they have finished serving their sentence devoid of any legal issues that might be raised by the convicts with regard to the documents.
Mr Aboagye Tandoh, judge, however, told the security agencies to hand over the genuine passports of the Yemenis to them while awaiting their deportation.
Esmail Yahya Amed Zeyad, Gaafar Eissa Yahya Amer and Waleed Ahmed Yahya, all students, were arrested by personnel of the Immigration Service at the Kotoka International Airport, Accra, on November 24, 2015, in possession of fake French passports as well as fake emergency entry visas.
They were charged with forgery of official documents and possession of forged documents, which they initially pleaded not guilty to, but later, they changed their plea to guilty, after four-and half months in the custody of the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI).
The judge said that he took the length of time the Yeminis spent in lawful custody coupled with the plea for mitigation of sentence by their lawyer, Mr Dominic Owusu Sekyere into consideration when passing judgment.
Mr Owusu Sekyere told the court that his clients were rather desirous of leaving their war-ravaged country to seek shelter elsewhere only to find their way to Ghana
Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) at the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) headquarters, Stephen Kwame Adjei, told the court that the convicts arrived at the Airport on board an Ethiopian Airline Flight E920 on November 24, 2015.
He said that whilst they were undergoing immigration arrival procedures, it was found out that the three Yeminis had French passports bearing different names in addition to their genuine Yemen passports.
The prosecutor said that when the French passports where examined, they were detected to be fake and that Esmail Yahya, Gaafar Yahya and Waleed Yahya admitted during interrogation that, Abdulai Mohammed in Yemen secured the French passports for them and also gave them phone numbers of one Mohammed they should contact soon on arrival in Ghana.
ASP Adjei said that the Yeminis were on transit in Ghana, to travel to France and continue to Istanbul, Turkey.
By Castro Zangina-Tong