Cocaine trial adjourned to August 24

Fri, 18 Aug 2006 Source: GNA

Accra, Aug. 18, GNA - The Accra Circuit Court trying five alleged drug barons on Friday adjourned the case to August 24 because the court did not sit.

When the case was called, all five accused persons 96 Kwabena Amaning alias Tagor; Alhaji Abass Issah; Kwabena Acheampong; Kwadwo Ababio and Victor Kisseh, alias Yaw Billa - were present in court. However, in the absence of the judge, a court official announced that the case was adjourned to August 24.

The accused persons were, therefore, led away into custody. The Ghana News Agency (GNA) learned later that judges are attending a seminar being held by the VAT Service. The accused persons were brought to court under heavy security guard.

The accused persons covered their faces with pamphlets or their caps to prevent members of the public, who thronged the court, from seeing their faces.

Tagor; Issah; Acheampong and Ababio were arrested on August 2 soon after testifying before the Justice Georgina Wood Committee investigating two cocaine-related cases, while Bolla was arrested later. All five are facing charges of conspiracy, importation of narcotic drugs without licence, engaging in prohibited business relating to narcotic drugs, importing 78 parcels of narcotic drugs and establishing and promoting businesses related to narcotic drugs. Their pleas have not been taken and their applications for bail were to have been considered on Friday.

At the last sitting on August 4, Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP), Mr Abicham Boye prayed the court to remand the accused persons to enable the Police to conduct further investigations into the matter. The case of the Prosecution is that on November 25, 2005 a large quantity of cocaine was imported into the country on MV Benjamin, a vessel that docked at the Tema Harbour. The Police had information about it and proceeded to the scene but retrieved only one parcel out of 78 parcels of cocaine suspected to be in the vessel.

The Minister of the Interior in on July 3 announced the setting up the Justice Georgina Wood Committee to investigate the suspected loss of parcels of narcotic drugs from the ship and allegations levelled against some Police Officers with respect to the seizure of narcotic drugs at East Legon in Accra.

The Narcotics Control Board (NCB), acting upon intelligence information that a ship on the high seas was suspected to be carrying narcotics drugs, intercepted the vessel on April 27, 2006 with the assistance of the Ghana Navy.

Officials of the NCB conducted a search on the vessel and discovered a leather bag containing 30 slabs of a whitish substance suspected to be cocaine. This was seized and taken to the headquarters for safekeeping.

"However, intelligence information indicated that originally, there were about 78 parcels in the vessel with each parcel containing 30 kilograms of cocaine. This suggests that 77 parcels of cocaine each weighing 30 kilograms were taken out of the vessel just before it was intercepted, the Ministry said.

The Committee is to, among other things, find out the person or persons, who brought the parcels on board the vessel and determine the actual numbers of narcotic drug parcels on the vessel immediately before it was intercepted.

It would determine whether some of the parcels on board the vessel were removed from it before it was intercepted, and, if so, to establish when and how this happened and recommend appropriate punishment. The Committee is also to determine the whereabouts of the parcels of narcotic drugs, if any, which were removed from the vessel and investigate any other issues relating to the loss of the narcotic drug and make recommendations on how to avoid them in future. 18 Aug. 06

Source: GNA
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