Treason charge 'unsustainable' in Ken Agyapong's trial – Lawyers
4/18/2012 2:30:03 PM -
Some lawyers have warned that the State may encounter a legal challenge if it proceeds to court with a charge of treason against Kennedy Agyapong.
The Assin North Member of Parliament (MP) has been in the custody of the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) and is facing charges of treason following unprintable comments he made last week about the conduct of the police amidst violence that has characterized the ongoing biometric registration exercise.
Counsel for Mr Agyapong, Atta Akyea has casted doubts on the sustainability of the charge, saying it is not supported by the facts on the ground.
Speaking on the Super Morning Show Wednesday, legal experts Ace Ankomah who is a senior lecturer at the Ghana Law School and Dr Dominic Ayine, a Lecturer at the Faculty of Law, University of Ghana stated that prosecutors will be better off looking for a more sustainable charge.
According to Ace Ankomah, treason is a crime that covers extreme acts against one's nation. He said the Constitution defines it as an instance where a person levies war against Ghana - actual commencement of war against the nation or assisting any state or person or inciting or conspiring with any person to levy war against Ghana.
Again, he said treason could mean attempts by force of arms through violent means to overthrow the organs of government formed by or under the constitution and conspiring with any person to take the above action.
He said it is critical to observe the difference between treason under article 19 and high treason under article 3 - where one seeks to overthrow the constitution and he added that a person convicted for high treason would be sentenced to death under the constitution.
Ace Ankomah asserted that the mandatory death sentence under article 3 does not appear to be applicable to that of article 19.
As to whether Ken Agyapong's statements amounted to treason, the legal practitioner stated: 'if it is all about language, I'm not too sure that what I heard indeed amounts to this very grave offense provided under the constitution.'
'His words were despicableit shouldn't come from the mouth of any Ghanaianbut to my mind, the language alone maynot be sufficient to sustain the charge.'
To add to that, Dr Domnic Ayine, explained that one also engages in treason when the person raises an army to usurp the powers of government. He stressed the importance of considering the facts and circumstances when proffering a charge of treason against someone.
In the case of the Assin North MP, though Dr Ayine admitted he has not listened to the tape himself, he said he could deduce from the information available in the media so far that the police do not have the 'ingredients' to charge Mr Agyapong with treason.
'I doubt whether a charge of treason can be founded on those words'he noted.
However, Dr Ayine pointed out to other sections of the Criminal Code (183) where he said the police can explore to find an appropriate charge for the offence committed by the MP.
Under article (183) of the criminal code: If 'a person utters any seditious words' that person commits a second degree felony.'
'This is where the police should be looking and not treason or high treason for that matter,' he concluded.