General News Thu, 7 Sep 2006

No Bail For 'Cocaine 4', But...

Accra, Sept. 7, GNA - A Circuit Court in Accra hearing the case of four suspected drug barons, who were arrested after testifying at the Justice Georgina Wood Committee, and another on Thursday refused them bail but asked the Police to go ahead with their prosecution if they had evidence or withdraw the charges.

The five are Kwabena Amaning, alias Tagor; Alhaji Abass Issah; Kwabena Acheampong and Kwadwo Ababio, all arrested soon after testifying before the Committee and Victor Kisseh, alias Yaw Billa, who was arrested later.

The Court said the Police should not take undue advantage of their investigations to continue to keep the accused persons in custody. "Let them know their stand."

It further suggested to Defence Counsel to go to the High Court to repeat their bail applications.

The accused persons are being tried for conspiring, importing 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 were not taken and were remanded into Police custody.

The Court's caution came up when the Prosecution told the Court that they needed a few weeks to get to the bottom of the case. "We are still investigating. We need a few weeks; by the next adjourned date, we would have some good news to tell the Court," Prosecuting Deputy Superintendent of Police Abicham Boye said. But the Prosecution's submissions raised worries for Defence Counsel, who vehemently opposed it.

Defence Counsel asked how long the Police would continue to say they needed more time to investigate the matter.

"My Lord if it's going to take us 10 years, we don't know," one Defence Counsel stated.

Nana Asante Bediatu, who represented Amaning, aka Tagor, renewed his bail application for his client.

Nana Bediatu questioned the basis of the law under which the Prosecution was still keeping the accused persons saying their detention was unconstitutional.

He further prayed the Ccourt to release them on bail and to impose the reasonable restriction on them.

Mr Safo Buabeng, who represented Abass, said looking at the facts "we can say that a case of narcotic had not been made". Mr Buabeng said his client had been arrested by the Police, Bureau of National Investigation and granted bail on the same offence and asked why he was being kept in custody now.

He said the Court had the right to grant bail if there was undue delay. "My client's human rights are being trampled upon."

Mr Agyei Mensah, who represented Ababio, said in November 2005 mentioned by the Prosecution his client was not in the country. According to him his client had not been implicated in the scanty facts produced by the Prosecution adding his name was only mentioned at the Georgina Wood Committee which investigated two cocaine-related cases.

The case of the Prosecution is that in April 2006, 78 parcels of cocaine each weighing 30 kilograms was imported into the country on board MV Benjamin, a vessel that docked at the Tema Harbour. The Police had information about it and proceeded to the scene but discovered only one parcel in the vessel. 7 Sept. 06
Source: GNA
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