Supreme Court awards GHC45,000 to teacher wrongfully jailed 15 years
The Supreme Court has awarded a GHC45, 0000 compensation to Mr Eric Asante, the teacher who was wrongfully jailed for 15 years on allegation of defiling and impregnating a student.
Apart from the GHC45,000, the court also ordered the government of Ghana to pay the 13-year salary of Mr Asante, which he lost as a result of his wrongful incarceration.
Mr Asante wanted compensation in excess of GHC7.3m for loss of income, psychological trauma, mental disorder among other things
But in a unanimous decision Wednesday, a five member panel of the court held that Mr Asante failed to prove that he suffered any mental or emotional disorder while incarcerated.
The court, accordingly, decided to award him GHC3,180 for each year he spent behind bars.
Mr Asante spent 13 years behind bars and was therefore awarded GHC45,000.
The panel was presided over by Mr Justice Anin Yeboah.
Other members were Mr Justice Paul Baffoe-Bonnie, Mr Justice Sule Gbadegbe, Mr Justice Gabriel Pwamang and Mr Justice Yaw Appau.
But counsel for Mr Asante, Mr Victor Kwesi Opeku, has expressed his disappointment at the amount awarded to his client.
In an interview after the ruling, he said the decision of the Supreme Court meant that the state had been let off the hook for an injustice on his client.
“I am very disappointed that the court threw out all the claims we made and awarded a paltry sum of Ghc45,000.
For a state to completely destroy a young person’s life for 13 years and get away with Ghc45,000 is not deterrent enough
On September 5, 2005, Mr Asante was jailed 15 years in hard labour by the Tamale High Court for allegedly defiling and impregnating a 13-year-old girl who was his student.
The student claimed that Mr Asante was her lover and that he had, on many occasions, had sexual relations with her.
Throughout the trial, and even in prison, Mr Asante consistently denied the charges levelled against him, insisting that he never had any amorous relationship with the girl.
He, therefore, initiated an appeal at the Court of Appeal to prove his innocence, but, in October 2006, the Court of Appeal dismissed his appeal and upheld his conviction.
Not satisfied, Mr Asante appealed to the Supreme Court in 2012. The apex court ordered a DNA test to be conducted to ascertain whether or not the teacher was the father of the child.
In a unanimous decision on January 26, 2017, the five-member panel held that the DNA test proved that Mr Asante was not the biological father of the baby and, therefore, he could not have been responsible for the pregnancy that brought forth the child.
According to the court, apart from the pregnancy, the prosecution in the trial that led to the conviction failed to present any other evidence that the alleged victim had been defiled by Mr Asante.
It further held that the so-called victim of the defilement, by lying that the teacher had impregnated her, was dishonest and, therefore, her testimony was deliberately false.