A former Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Martin Alamisi Amidu has asserted that the granting of a presidential pardon to the convicted “Montie trio” will not constitute disrespect to the judiciary.
He explained if that would be so, then all other presidential pardon granted would constitute a disregard to the courts.
“As for the argument that it will be an interference with the independence of the judiciary to grant any pardon, I will like the proponents of that doctrine to tell the whole world which exercises of the President’s powers of pardon cannot be said to be an interference with judicial independence.
In the sense that he pardons the convictions and/or sentences already imposed in exercise of the court’s judicial power. That is why it is a prerogative of mercy! : To grant to a person convicted of an offence a pardon.”
Mr. Amidu, who has been the longest served former Deputy Attorney-General, said in a statement he issued yesterday.
The three contemnors, Salifu Maase, Alistair Nelson and Godwin Ako Gunn were sentenced to a four-month imprisonment by the Supreme Court on July 27 for scandalising the court.
Since their conviction, their lawyers, several ministers and the hierarchy of the ruling National Democratic Congress has appealed to President John Mahama to invoke the constitution provision and pardon them.
Mr. Amidu maintained that “anybody acquainted with the judicial process should know that there have been instances in which the courts themselves have invited the President to consider exercising his powers of mercy by pardoning the convicted.”
He added that it would therefore not “be an insult to the integrity, professionalism and maturity of our judicial system to say that the court will be offended by any exercise of the powers of mercy by the President, simply because the conviction was for contempt of the court”.
He stated that the contempt for which the accused persons were hauled before the court was committed out of court but the court assumed the arbitrary power of being the complainant, prosecutor, and judge.
According to Mr Amidu contempt of scandalising the court with which the accused persons were charged is a criminal offence and like all criminal offences must come under Article 88 of the constitution and be prosecuted in the name of the Republic and by the Attorney-General or any other person authorised by him in accordance with the law.
“And as the ruling shows the court was exasperated by the Attorney-General’s lack of responsiveness to the execution of her constitutional duties that it decided unwittingly to treat the matter as though the contempt was committed in court and was being dealt with “on the spot” “so to speak.”