Prosecutors boycott Tamale Circuit Court Judge over rosewood trial
Police prosecutors in Tamale have been directed not to bring fresh cases before the Tamale Circuit Court judge, Justice Twumasi Appiah.
This is in protest against the court’s ruling in the case involving the Chinese woman, Helen Huang, who was arrested for smuggling banned rosewood in May.
The directive was issued by the regional Attorney-General’s office, senior police sources at the Northern Regional Crime Investigation Department have confirmed to JoyNews.
The sources said the judge’s ruling shocked prosecutors, necessitating the decision to stop bringing cases before him.
A Chinese national, Helen Huang, suspected of trading in banned rosewood was re-arrested after jumping bail.
The woman in her 40s was first arrested in Tamale on May 7, 2019, for transporting four truckloads of rosewood, an endangered forestry product.
Detained and later granted a police inquiry bail, the suspect subsequently fled the country two days after her arrest. The man who stood surety for her was charged while the police declared her wanted.
After Helen Huang was seen in Tamale on June 15, the police rearrested her, ending her 36 days on the run.
She was arraigned before the Tamale Circuit court.
Prosecutors rushed to the circuit court to challenge a bail application by lawyers of the suspect and also asked for a remand.
But the presiding judge, Justice Twumasi Appiah struck out the case and handed over the suspect to the Immigration Service. This was in spite of vehement protests by police and state prosecutors.
According to the Judge, his decision to order her deportation was based on the failure of prosecutors to formally bring criminal charges against the Chinese suspected smuggler.
This claim has been challenged by state prosecutors who insist a charge sheet was before the judge at the time of giving his ruling.
This appears to have strained the relationship between the state prosecutors and the judge, leading to the current boycott.
JoyNews checks have revealed no fresh case has been filed at the circuit court since the directive was issued on June 29, almost four days after the rosewood case was dramatically dismissed by the judge.
The police sources say the directive was issued after they made several complaints against the judge.
One senior prosecutor also confirmed the directive to JoyNews but said it was temporary.
“This measure is temporary. We are going to monitor to see if there will be some change but the circuit court is hearing cases, only that we are not assigning new cases”.
The regional principal prosecutor, Quddus Salia, will neither confirm nor deny the boycott, except to say the matter is confidential.