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General News Thu, 29 May 2003

Adabuga's transcript forwarded to Rawlings - NRC

The National Reconciliation Commission (NRC) on Wednesday said the transcript of ex-Corporal Adabuga's evidence has been forwarded to ex-President Jerry John Rawlings for his response.

In an interview with the GNA, Ms Annie Anipa, Public Affairs Manager, said it has been the procedure of the Commission to notify any person against whom a witness levels specific accusation of human rights violations in order to hear his or her side of the story.

Ex-Corporal Adabuga in his evidence last week made a series of allegations against the ex-president including he popping champagne when he was told that the High Court judges had been murdered.

Ms. Anipa who was reacting to the statement made by the legal team of ex-President Rawlings at a press conference on Monday in response to corporal Adabuga's evidence, said though the team has made no formal request to them, the Commission on Tuesday sent the transcript to him because that has been the norm.

Ms Anipa said it now depends on the ex-President and his legal team to respond as early as possible before Corporal Adabuga leaves the country, as the Commission could not hold him for a long time.

Ms Anipa said Corporal Adabuga was granted public hearing because though he requested for a hearing in-camera when he wrote his statement in October 2002, he went ahead to organise a press conference and put all his evidence in the public domain. There was therefore no need to hear him in camera.

"The Commission was not happy with Adabuga's press conference", the NRC Public Affairs Director said.

She said the NRC Act allows for private hearings on the grounds that the evidence to be given could affect state security, offend public morality, or by public hearing, the personal security of the witness would be affected.

On the accusation of the Legal Team that NRC did not conduct adequate investigations into matters before calling witnesses, Ms. Anipa asked the Team to explain what it meant by "adequate investigations."

She said the events ex-Corporal Adabuga narrated did occur, and asked: "Who did not know about the December 31, 1979 coup, or the 1981 coup or the jail break in 1983?''

Ms Anipa said it was unfortunate that only during hearings did witnesses give graphic details about events adding that though counsel always tried to redirect them to the main issues, some witnesses insisted on being allowed to pour the pains they had harboured over the years, making it difficult for the commission to stop them.

"Several of (such cases) happened in Kumasi where witnesses gave details that were not included in their statements.

"This is because they had lived with the pain for a long time and want an opportunity to take it out of their system by revealing all that they knew."

Ms Anipa said the work of the Commission was victim-centred as it is aimed at healing the wounds of victims.

The words of sympathy or encouragement pronounced by members of the Commission were not meant as an acceptance of the witnesses' statement as the truth or intended to ridicule anybody, Ms Anipa added.

"Rather the Commissioners make those statements based on whatever happens on the floor during hearings and they are meant to congratulate witnesses as it takes courage to openly confess to have committed an atrocity."

Ms Anipa said it is only natural to express one's sympathy and appreciation to someone who has suffered torture and has come out openly to make it known to the public.

Source: gna
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