AG to remedy challenges of Ghana’s jury system

The Attorney-General (AG) is taking steps to remedy severe challenges identified with Ghana’s jury system, following the verdict of the jury on the murder case involving Adams Mahama, Upper East Regional Chairman of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), in 2015. 

AsabkeAlangdi, accused of conspiracy to commit murder, was sentenced to death by hanging by the Accra High Court, while the court ordered a retrial of Gregory Afoko, accused of murdering Mahama.

The remedy of the (AG) forms part of proposals for amendment of many parts of the Criminal Procedure Laws of Ghana. 

The Attorney-General and Minister of Justice, MrGodfredYeboah Dame, issued and signed a statement following the hung verdict announced by the seven-member jury, last Thursday, on some of the charges against the accused.

It said: “The Attorney-General, hereby, respectively, entreats members of the public, including lawyers, to be guided accordingly and desist from comments, which have an undue tendency to jeopardise the sound and efficient administration of justice.”   

The jury returned a unanimous verdict on Alangdi on the charge of conspiracy to commit murder, but delivered a hung verdict in respect of Afoko. 

The accused and the convict were being heldon two counts of murder and conspiracy to commit murder.

 “In the instance case, particularly, the verdict of the jury regarding the guilt of the second accused (Alangdi) for conspiracy to commit murder, whilst at the same time delivering a hung verdict in the case of the first accused on the same charge, highlights the severe challenges with the jury system,” according to the statement.

The AG noted that:“For the offence of conspiracy to commit murder, the particulars disclosed that the two accused agreed to act together with a common purpose to commit crime: namely murder. 

The statement said:“Being offences, the punishment for which is death, in accordance with Article 19 (2) of the Constitution, the accused were tried by a judge and jury (the jury being the decider of the guilt or otherwise of the accused persons).

“For the offence of murder, the verdict of the jury shall be unanimous. Any verdict of the jury in a case punishable by death, which is not unanimous, is of no effect and means the jury has failed to reach a decision or has resulted in what is popular described as a hung jury.”

The statement explained that in accordance with Section 285 (1) of the Criminal and other offence (Procedure) Act, 1960 (Act 30), the justice of Appeal, sitting with additional justice of the High Court, proceeded to pass the mandatory sentence of death on the two accused. 

It said by a decision of 4-3, the first accused Gregory Afoko, was not guilty of the offence of conspiracy to commit murder. 

According to the statement, the lack of unanimity in the verdict of the jury regarding the offence of murder, for which both accused stood trial, and the offence of conspiracy to commit murder in the case of the first accused, Gregory Afoko, dictated that the accused must be tried before another jury. 

It said: “The laws of Ghana required the accused, in the circumstances, to be tried before a new jury. The Republic is bound by same.” – GNA 

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