Eric Amoateng acquitted and discharged

An Accra Circuit Court on Tuesday acquitted and discharged former New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament for Nkoranza North, Eric Amoateng over forged passport charge.

Mr. Amoateng after serving a ten-year jail term in the United States for a drug-related offence was arrested and arraigned on arrival in Ghana for allegedly possessing a fake Ghanaian passport.

Just after his freedom was restored he told the Ghanaian Times after that it was God’s intervention, saying “it feels good, it is God, it feels so good for me to be free.”

The court, presided over by a High Court Judge sitting as an additional Circuit Court Judge, Justice Ellen Vivian Amoah said the prosecution failed to prove beyond every reasonable doubt the guilt of the accused.

She added that though the prosecution proved the alleged fake passport was in the possession of the accused, it failed to establish how he come by the forged document.

According to her, the fundamental principle of Criminal Law was that a crime consists of both a mental and a physical element, are a person’s awareness of the fact that his or her conduct is criminal, and actus reus, the act itself, which is the physical element.

The judge stated that the prosecution should have proved this to indicate that the accused knew the passport was forged, since all the prosecution witnesses could not tell the court the indications that the passport was forged by merely looking at it.

That, she said raised doubt, which in such circumstance, inured to the benefit of the accused.

Amoateng was, on December 11, 2005, arrested in the United States for possessing heroin valued at $6 million.

He was tried, convicted and subsequently sentenced to a 10-year prison term and was released on July 30, 2014.

About 2.20 p.m. on August 7, 2014, he arrived at the Kotoka International Airport and during the arrival formalities, he was found to be in possession of a Ghanaian passport with the number H02347080.

The passport, the prosecution said, was in the name of one Barbara Inkum and was issued on February 23, 2009, at a time when Amoateng was in prison in the USA.

The prosecution said analysis of the passport by the Document Fraud Office of the Ghana Immigration Service (GIS), showed that the passport was a forged one as its bio data page had been substituted.

By Edem Mensah-Tsotorme   

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