General News Thu, 5 Oct 2006

‘Kokofu Football’ Plagues Cocaine Case

Flamboyant coke suspect’s lawyer cries foul over bail denial

Counsel for the most famous of the suspected drug barons, Kwabena Amaning (a.k.a. Tagor) has registered his protest against the continuous detention of his client in the face of the bail granted ACP Kofi Boakye, who is charged with the same offence as his client.

Nana Asante Bediatuo, of Ampem chambers warned that the Police’s attitude of charging suspects before investigations had to cease, as it was improper.

He said before a suspect could be charged, the police must establish a case or at least have reasonable suspicion against the person to arrest them, and then establish a prima-facie case against them to hold them without bail.

Speaking to The Chronicle he noted that the police had not done so in the case of his client, but had detained him without his name being mentioned in connection with their investigations.

What he said bogged him was the fact that it has turned out that four persons had been declared wanted by the police as being responsible for the raiding of the MV Benjamin vessel, which negates the rationale for the continued detention of Tagor.

“Well, I am not comfortable at all; I think the whole process is a charade,” he fumed. “You charge somebody with doing something in November; then you subsequently say the said illegal acts were actually perpetrated in April by other persons. So on what basis are you going to hold the first person for over two months without finishing your investigations, having charged him already?”

He added, “We’ve got to do better than that as a Republic. If we are prosecuting people, we’ve got to uphold the rule of law.

“It seems to me that if you don’t have the facts, you don’t tell us what you believe about the person. Even if you believe the person is a murderer, a cocaine dealer or a thief, if you cannot prove it, the rules of the game are that you must let them go.”

Lawyer Bediatuo argued that Tagor could be granted bail whiles the police put reasonable restriction on his movements in order to ensure that when he was required to be in court or assist the police, he would appear.

“They are simply keeping him behind bars on the kind of facts they have, but it is completely arbitrary and has no place in our kind of constitutional democracy,” he insisted.

Touching on the celebration of Tagor’s birthday “in grand style” in cells, he said the media had blown the issue out of proportion.

Narrating what really happened, he said Tagor’s people provided him with food and he decided to share it with the inmates of his cell, adding that there should not be a fuss about it at all since he was not a convict, but a suspect.

“We have to be careful about the way we characterize things in this country and we have to be fair to the fact that when people are arrested on suspicion of committing a crime, they are innocent until proven guilty and we must treat them as such,” he reiterated emphatically.

He also maintained that the transfer of the case from a Tribunal Court to a Fast Track Court on the grounds that it is automated was a deliberate attempt to delay proceedings and delay justice.

He maintained that the country could not punish suspects because of the incompetence of the police to carry out investigations.

Asked whether the content of the infamous tape could be used against Tagor, he rebutted quickly, “Not on the basis of the charges against him.”

He continued that the tape had absolutely no bearing on the case now, since there were about four versions of the tape in town.

“But the question on whether my client is the one whose voice is on the tape is one issue, and as to whether or not the tape is credible is another issue,” he noted.

“In criminal justice, no matter how much you believe somebody is a cocaine dealer, a thief, a murderer or a fraudster and you cannot prove it or establish the facts to prove it, you let them go; you cannot say ‘I know they have done it but I just can’t prove it’.”
Source: Chronicle
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