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General News Wed, 12 Mar 2008

Court gives Banda one year

Accra, March 12, GNA - An Accra Fast Track High Court on Wednesday handed down a one year jail term on Haleem Banda, son of Alhaji Asoma Banda, a business tycoon after he was found guilty for threatening Mr. Kofi Okyere Darko, a radio presenter with death. The sentence was to take effect from June 10 2007, the day of his arrest. Haleem has been in custody for nine months.

Haleem, 32, was said to have threatened to kill Mr. Okyere Darko in Accra on the dawn of June 10, 2006 at a night club in Accra. Haleem was also found guilty on additional charges of two counts of possessing firearms and ammunitions without lawful authority and possessing a pump action gun with an expired licence. He was to pay a fine of 6,000 Ghana cedis each in default a year's imprisonment each. Sentences were to run concurrently.

The court, presided over by Mr. Justice B.T. Aryeetey, an Appeal Court judge however acquitted and discharged him on another count of threat of death because prosecution could not lead credible evidence to prove that charge.

It furthered ordered that a pump action gun retrieved from Haleem's home be confiscated to the State. While prosecution called six witnesses to make its case, defence called two. The court said it took into consideration of Mr. Addo Attuah, defence counsels' prayer that accused was a first offender. It also took cognizance of the fact that accused was young and could start life afresh and a long sentence could harm his reputation and his family.

Cautioning him, the judge told Haleem to be of good behaviour and stay away from that kind of life adding, "if this should happen to you next time, you would not find things easy".

Pleading for mitigation earlier, Mr. Attuah said it respected the decision of the court and drew the court's attention to the fact that accused was a first offender, married with two kids, adding that long incarceration may affect his client.

Defence counsel therefore prayed the court to deal leniently with him. He was said to have threatened one Mr. Banson, a businessman and manager of the Cinderella Night Club at Cantonment in Accra and Mr. Kofi Okyere-Darko, a radio presenter, with death.

At about 0130 hours on June 10, last year Mr. Banson and Mr. Okyere-Darko came out of "The Office", a spot in the premises of Cinderella Night Club and met Haleem at the entrance. The accused for no reason began raining insults on Mr. Banson. Mr. Okyere-Darko then asked Mr. Banson if he knew the accused person. Mr. Banson in response asked Mr. Okyere-Darko to follow him to his car. Surprisingly Haleem pursued them amidst words of threat.

The accused was alleged to have drawn a pistol and fired three times and pointed the muzzle of the weapon at Mr. Okyere-Darko's neck, asking him to talk if he was a man.

Mr. Banson then entered Cinderella Night club but Haleem allegedly chased him shouting, "Where are you? I will kill you." Haleem, however, drove off after he could not locate Banson. When a police patrol team arrived at the scene Haleem had left but they found some empty shells.

On June 12, during interrogation, Haleem denied firing at the scene and owing a pistol.

A search conducted in his room however led to the discovery of four live ammunitions, nine blank ammunitions and a pistol holster.

Source: GNA