Dery Fights Anas, Over Goat & Cash Video

Justice Paul Uuter Dery, one of the High Court judges accused of taking bribe in the audiovisual recordings by investigative journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas, yesterday succeeded in stopping the public screening of the much sought-after video which captured 34 judges allegedly engaged in corruption.

The embattled judge had filed yet another writ at a Kumasi High Court against Anas and two others for trying to screen the audiovisual in the Ashanti Region, after making an effort to stop the screening of the video in Accra through a court action last week.

The judge was said to have taken a goat and cash from Tiger Eye, the company Anas represents.

And in response to the action, Anas called off the public screening to the disappointment of patrons in Kumasi.

The plaintiff currently has four cases against Anas and his company, Tiger Eye PI, including an appeal against the dismissal by an Accra High Court of a contempt application for the premiering of the video.

Justice Dery wanted the court to declare that the premiering of the documentary by Anas was prejudicial to his right to fair hearing and also stop the journalist and the other defendants, Excellent Media, operators of Ultimate 106.9 FM and Golden Tulip Hotels, both situated in Kumasi, from screening the video.

He also prayed the court to restrain the defendants, their assigns and workmen among others from screening the ‘illegally’ acquired audiovisual recordings.

Justice Dery further wanted the court to stop Anas from making the audio visuals available on social media and for any other costs which the court might deem fit.

In his statement filed on October 2, 2015, the plaintiff said he was at all material times a justice of the High Court of Ghana while Tiger Eye PI which claimed to be engaged in investigations, was the producer of the documentary ‘Ghana in the Eyes of God’.

He said Ultimate Fm was a radio station in Kumasi while Golden Tulip Kumasi was a company incorporated under the laws of Ghana and engaged in the hospitality industry in Ghana.

The plaintiff said he was formerly a presiding judge in Fast Track High Court three and was on transfer to Sekondi Takoradi and received a letter from the Chief Justice to report to her office; and when he did, he was handed a petition on Article 146 bordering on allegations of bribery.

He said the letter from the CJ stated that the President had received the petition, which he forwarded to the CJ for action to be taken under Article 146 of the Constitution and was accompanied by audiovisual recordings.

In addition, he said the audiovisual recordings contained some allegations of bribery against him and averred that he initiated an action against Tiger Eye PI, the CJ and Attorney-General which seeks among others to restrain the screening of the said audiovisual recordings.

The embattled Judge further noted that he had commenced an action at the Supreme Court against Tiger Eye PI based on the said audiovisual recordings.

Anas Reacts
But Anas said he remained unshaken by attempts by some of the affected judges, especially Justice Dery, to gag him.

Even though the journalist-cum-lawyer admitted that ‘we have stepped on the toes of some of the most powerful people in our society, the result of which are attempts to stop us from showing this film’, he stressed the belief that ‘this is temporary’ since ‘the matter is far from over and we are confident that the truth will eventually come out.’

‘It was expected that some of those affected would fight tooth and nail to stop you from watching the video. That is fair. That is their right’, he noted in a statement issued in Accra yesterday.

As a journalist and a lawyer, he noted, ‘I understand and respect that interpretation and enforcement of the law is the sole preserve of the judiciary and so I will abide by the law which prohibits me from taking any steps that will prejudice the outcome of the pending injunction application.’

That notwithstanding, he expressed worry over what he called ‘the deliberate attempt to prevent me from serving the public interest which my profession obligates me to, through showing you this video. I am convinced that we must allow due process to drive our actions at all times.

‘These are interesting days for press freedom and the fight to expose corruption in Ghana’, he said, while noting with emphasis that ‘our stand and fight against corruption is a responsibility to the past, the present and unborn generations.’

He indicated that ‘it is about the rights of people, the need to know what happens not only on the streets, but in the highest reaches of power, even our corridors of justice.’

Anas and his team said ‘we respect and believe in a strong and independent judiciary and that attempts to use the courts to impose censorship, to muzzle the media and to strike a blow against the hard won freedoms of the media and of free expression in this country, especially in a matter of such unparalleled public interest, will not succeed’, adding that ‘it should be neither a crime nor a civil wrong for the media to expose criminal behavior and those who work against the interests of citizens, and to show it to all citizens.’

That, according to him, was why journalists must not get approval before their stories were published and ‘that is why journalists, all who care about press freedom and indeed all citizens, ought to be worried about attempts to stop you from watching this video.’

By Fidelia Achama

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