General News Thu, 21 Sep 2006

Tagor, others for Fast Track High Court;

case adjourned to October 9

Accra, Sept. 7, GNA - The Attorney-General's Department on Thursday told an Accra Circuit Court hearing the case of five suspected drug barons that it intended to put the suspects before the Fast Track High Court.

Four of them - Kwabena Amaning, alias Tagor; Alhaji Abass Issah; Kwabena Acheampong and Kwadwo Ababio - were arrested after testifying at the Justice Georgina Wood Committee set up by the Ministry of the Interior to investigate two high-profile cocaine cases. The fifth suspect is Victor Kisseh, alias Yaw Billa, who was arrested later.

Ms Gertrude Aikins, Chief State Attorney, who has taken over the case from Deputy Superintendent of Police Abichab Boye, said the Police needed time to complete its investigations.

She said the trading in cocaine was not done in the open and there was, therefore, the need for more time to investigate the matter. Ms Aikins said the Georgina Wood Committee was expected to submit its report on Friday and "the AG’s Department needs to review it and study the evidence gathered and move on". The Chief State Attorney, therefore, prayed the Court to adjourn the matter to coincide with the opening of the High Court, which is currently on recess. The Committee investigated the disappearance of 77 parcels of cocaine from a fishing vessel, MV Benjamin, and alleged bribery of Police officers following the seizure of 588 kilograms of cocaine at East Legon in Accra.

Nana Asante Bediatu, Counsel for Amaning, renewing his application for bail, said the latest development was disturbing. Nana Bediatu said the Prosecution’s argument suggested that they did not have a case but they were trying to build one. "The Committee has nothing to do with what is happening at the court," he said.

He said in pronouncements this week by the Greater Accra Regional Crime Officer placing a price tag on those allegedly involved in the MV Benjamin case, the accused person were not mentioned. According to him the Crime Officer's pronouncements had given a new twist to the matter. Nana Bediatu said if the Prosecution was ready the court had the jurisdiction to hear the case.

Mr Safo Buabeng, who represented Issah, submitted that the Prosecution by their conduct was killing his client slowly. He said after the last adjourned date Issah, who is diabetic and hypertensive, had been on admission at the Police Hospital and prayed the Court to exercise its discretion in granting bail to his client. "If the Prosecution is sending the case to the Fast Track Court, they need to discharge them today," he declared.

Mr Mohammed Sani, who represented Kwabena Acheampong, said the Police had a time limit to complete investigations and urged them to expedite their investigations. Mr Agyei Mensah, who represented Ababio, used the Biblical story of Pharaoh and Moses and prayed the Court "to let my client go". 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 again into Police custody to reappear on October 9.

The case of the Prosecution is that in April 2006, 78 parcels of cocaine each weighing 30 kilograms were 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 30-kilogram parcel in the vessel.

Source: GNA
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