Judge chastises Attorneys, prosecutors for not preferring right charges

Justice Francis Obiri, a High Court judge has said that the state will continue to lose high profile cases if attorneys and prosecutors do not prefer the right charges on accused persons before taking them to court.

Justice Obiri expressed the concern yesterday, when he granted a GH¢50,000 bail with three sureties to the two Ghanaians arrested a few weeks ago, for allegedly facilitating the shipment of 5,880 kilogrammes of cocaine from Bolivia to Burkina Faso.

Shahad Iddrisu, a Customs Officer of the Ghana Revenue Authority and Alexander Kofi Baah, a businessman were arrested on March 5, by a joint police and Bureau of National Investigations personnel for their roles in the said shipment, charges which they have pleaded not guilty to.

The outspoken High Court judge, sitting with additional responsibility in the Circuit Court, was particularly concerned about the inaccuracies and distortions in the particulars of the case, the facts and the affidavit in opposition by the state countering the defence’s application for bail.

“In one instance, the state said the cocaine was bound for Burkina   Faso, yet in the affidavit in opposition for bail, they stated Tema. So which is which?” Mr. Obiri queried.

He said: “This same approach of not preferring the right charges, has resulted in the loss of cases of national interest including the recent Alfred Agbesi Woyome judgement, Ruby Nayele Ametefe and a host of other cases.”

At the last sitting, the prosecution opposed the application for bail by the defence team, citing a litany of reasons including the fact that the case had assumed an international dimension, and that the Circuit Court did not have the jurisdiction to do so, and no instance of unreasonable delay to warrant the granting of bail.

Justice Obiri ruled in favour of the defence on reasons that the court has the jurisdiction to hear the case because Article 14(4) of the 1992 Constitution was explicit, and no provision of the said article stated it is only the High Court that could hear a case of that nature, and consequently adjourned the case to yesterday for ruling.

Ruling on the application, Mr. Obiri reminded the court of the fundamental human rights of the accused, adding that the human rights of every person predominates over everything, and at no point should those rights be curtailed unjustifiably.

He said although the state attorney had prayed the court not to grant the accused bail, there was a failure to attach a proof connecting the accused to the charges leveled against them.

“I will not be surprised if the state files a nolle prosequi to discontinue this case just as it has done in the Nayele trial,” Mr. Obiri said.

Justice Obiri said the courts exist to provide justice and should not be used as a conduit to punish innocent people.

The conduct of the state attorney, he said, could be likened in the religious realm as apostasy of the highest order, adding that state attorneys must justify the tax-payers’ money used in paying their monthly salaries, and stop victimising innocent people.

The case has been adjourned to April 30, 2015.

By Malik Sullemana      

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