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10.01.2007 General News

Tsibu Darko Granted ¢1 Billion Bail

By William Yaw Owusu
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Prince Tibu-Darko, the Tema-based businessman, charged with exporting 3,700 kilogrammes of cocaine to Europe, was yesterday granted a ¢1 billion bail with two sureties to be justified by an Accra Fast Track High Court.
The court, presided over by Justice Jones Dotse, a Court of Appeal judge, ordered Tibu-Darko, 49, to surrender his passport and all travelling documents to the court’s registry and to report every Wednesday to the investigator of the case.
Additionally, the court has asked the medical officer attending to Tibu-Darko, currently on admission at the Nyaho Medical Centre in Accra, to inform the Registrar of the court anytime the accused is discharged or in the event of his transfer to another health facility.
Explaining the reasons for granting him bail, the judge said the prosecution had failed to gather the necessary facts to prosecute the case. 'The charge preferred against the accused is so serious that there must be concrete facts attached to it,' he said.
He said that even though Section 97 of the Criminal Procedure Code 1960 had been amended by Act 714 to the effect that bail is not granted to people who are arrested for narcotic offences, the law does not specify the conditions under which the court must exercise its discretion in the grant of bail.
'If the prosecution is not able to gather all credible materials needed to prosecute the case within a reasonable time, then the court’s hand cannot be tied to this new Act with respect to the exercise of its direction in the grant of bail,' Mr. Dotse said.
He said further that in any trial, the facts must correspond with the charges preferred against an accused person, 'but in this case, the charges cannot support the facts as expected.'
The judge noted that since investigations into the case commenced, the prosecution had not been able to name the European country to which the accused exported the cocaine, the way in which the accused made the export, and the officials who effected the arrest and intercepted the vessel.
'All this shows that the prosecution is not ready to furnish the court with the facts,' he stated.
The prosecution, led by Mrs. Yvonne A. Obuobisah, a Senior State Attorney, on December 21, indicated to the court that it was no longer opposed to the court’s granting of bail to the accused person due to the fact that he was indisposed.
She also submitted that the prosecution was still investigating the matter saying, 'There has been a little difficulty in our investigations because we have to go beyond the territorial waters of Ghana.'
The prosecution therefore asked the court to exercise its discretion in granting the bail and to set the necessary conditions that would ensure that the accused comes back to stand trail.
With these, Gabriel Pwamang and Yonnie Kulendi, counsel for Tibu-Darko, renewed their application for bail on the grounds that the continuous detention of the accused without any trail was against his rights and also had affected his health.
The court said the prosecution was served with the application but did not challenge the facts presented by counsel.
Tibu-Darko had pleaded not guilty to one count of carrying out prohibited business relating to narcotic drugs.
He first appeared at an Accra Circuit Court on August 16, and has since been on remand.
On November 22, the prosecution entered a 'nolle prosequi' (unwilling to pursue) in the case.
He was however, re-arrested soon after and arraigned before the Fast Track Court on November 23, last year.