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19.11.2006 Crime & Punishment

DRAMA IN COKE CASE-Suspects Discharged and Re-arrested

By times
DRAMA IN COKE CASE-Suspects Discharged and Re-arrested
LISTEN NOV 19, 2006

FOUR men standing trial over the disappearance of 77 parcels of cocaine from the MV Benjamin vessel at the Tema Port, were yesterday discharged by a tribunal for lack of prosecution after the Attorney-General (A-G) withdrew the charges.

But in a dramatic development, they were immediately re-arrested, on the orders of the AG.

The four, who were not in court, were to have been freed from prison custody after the discharge but following the orders of the AG, they were not released.

Sources at the AG's department say they will be put before the Fast Track High Court to face fresh charges.

Joseph Kojo Dawson, a businessman and owner of the vessel; Freeman Sosi, a mechanic; Evans Charwetey Tsekobi, a fisherman, and Alhaji Moro Mohammed, a businessman, were not present at the Greater Accra Regional Tribunal.

Originally, they had been charged with abetment, conspiracy and importation of narcotic drugs but these were withdrawn and substituted with five counts of conspiracy, use of property for narcotic offences and abetment.

Asem Darke, also known as Sheriff who allegedly carted the cocaine away and was charged together with the four men, is still at large while Alhaji Moro has been hospitalised.

Ms Getrude Aikins, a Chief State Attorney and prosecutor of the case, entered the courtroom midway into the proceedings and told the tribunal: "We have entered a 'nolle prosequi' for the accused persons," in other words that the AG's department was "unwilling to pursue" the case against the four.

The decision to discontinue the case was taken on November 15 but was filed yesterday.

Before Ms Aikins interrupted the proceedings with her submission, lawyers of the four accused persons had taken turns to renew their applications for bail for their clients.

Mr Yonni Kulendi, representing Alhaji Moro, said the amendment of Act 714 which makes it impossible for bail to be granted to narcotic suspects had not changed anything.

He said the prosecution had failed to present the facts before the court for the defence to establish their case and continue to detain the accused person.

Mr E.K. Aneley, counsel for Dawson, said his client had admitted to officials of the Narcotics Control Board that Sheriff chartered his vessel which was intercepted on April 27 by the security agencies.

He said his client was once granted bail by an Accra circuit court in connection with the same case.

"It is this total misunderstanding on the part of the prosecution that has led to the charging of my client," he said.

Mr Willie Amarfio, representing Tsekobi, told the packed tribunal that the prosecution had continued to detain the accused persons "unlawfully" without facts.

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