The Room Is HotSays Judge As He Adjourns Acid Case

A Judge at an Accra Central Magistrate Court, Worlanyo Kotoku, presiding over the case involving Gregory Afoko, who is accused of murdering the Upper East Regional Chairman of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Mahama Adam, was yesterday compelled to end proceedings because of consistent heat in the room.

The marathon legal arguments, which took proceedings to almost 3:00 p.m., made the judge confess that the courtroom was hot, and that he had to adjourn the hearing. He confessed; “I am adjourning because of heat and time is going”, and subsequently adjourned the case to Tuesday March 24, 2016 at 11:00 a.m.

Gregory was brought in after 1:00 p.m., but when the case was called, the Chief State Attorney was nowhere to be found, which compelled the court to step down the case for some time.

Legal Gymnastics
The Lead Counsel for Gregory Afoko, Ekow Ampah Korsah, accused the Attorney General (Prosecution) for withholding relevant information from the defense team and the court.  According to him, the AG, at this time of the committal proceedings should give all the relevant evidence to the defense team to interrogate the facts, something which they had not done.

He said, as the Defense Counsel, he should have access to the evidence, because what the prosecution could deem as immaterial might be of great importance to him, so they are supposed to furnish him with that.

The Chief State Attorney, Matthew Amponsah, on his part, said the prosecution did not hide anything from the court, because, in practices and procedures, exhibits and bill of indictment are not given to accused person or his counsel at any time of the preliminary hearing, but rather at the committal, and that was what he intend doing, however, all disclosures would be done at the High Court.

He said at this stage, the prosecution only had to lay a prima facie case against the person, which had been done. Counsel for the accused person described the refusal to give him evidence which could be of immense help to him as being unfair to the court and all accused persons in a criminal trial, because the AG received outcomes of investigations from the police and was the only one with access to it and decide what is material, which makes it unfair.

He argued that the prosecution was basing their argument not to disclose on the 1960 laws, which is at variance with the 1992 Constitution. He said: “They want to say this is how it is done, based on 1960 laws, which are at variance to the 1992 Constitution.”

He then requested a referral to the highest court of the land, the Supreme Court, for interpretation of Sections 181, 182 of Article 30, which may be in conflict with Article 19 clause 2E and G. Adding the Magistrate Court is duty bound to make a determination.

Mr. Ampah Korsah, added that in respect of a fair trial, the prosecution has the common right to withhold the products of police investigations from the defense, and also from the committal court.

He argued further that at this stage the prosecution had not furnished the court with anything, since they deemed it immaterial.

Therefore, as long as the prosecution has the right to keep some of the statements and proceedings from the court and the defense, it defeats the object of justice and proceedings.  So if there will be fair trial, they have to be furnished with all relevant documents irrespective of whether they were material or immaterial.

Brief Facts
Adam Mahama died after an acid attack, and Gregory Afoko, who is the younger brother of the suspended NPP National Chairman, Paul Afoko was arrested after he was reportedly named by Adam Mahama before his death. Musah was later arrested for allegedly buying the acid used for the attack.

According to the police charge sheet, Gregory Afoko, after his arrest, was asked to lead the police to the house of his accomplice, Asabke Alangdi, but “he rather took them to the father’s house. Police later located the house of the second accused, but he had got wind of their presence and absconded with his wife, leaving behind their baby.”

By Maame Agyeiwaa Agyei

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