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25.01.2007 General News

34 Charged Over Riots At Suhum

By Castro Zangina Tonga Koforidua
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THIRTY-FOUR people, including a woman, who took part in a demonstration at Suhum have appeared before a Koforidua circuit court charged with rioting with weapons.

They are said to be part of a rampaging youth that blocked the major roads at Suhum, burnt lorry tyres and vandalised two police official vehicles.

Prosecuting, ASP T.K. Nyadu, told the court that the Eastern Regional Police Commander had a distress call from Suhum at about 11:30am on January 17 that a group of young men and women had besieged the street in the area, blocked all the routes leading to the town and were burning lorry tyres on the roads.

He said a team of police personnel was immediately deployed to the area to maintain law and order but on reaching the road leading to the District Chief Executive’s residence, it was discovered that the angry mob had blocked the road and set some lorry tyres ablaze.

ASP Nyadu said the Regional Commander who was in his vehicle and was accompanied by the crime officer, in another service vehicles were ordered by the mob to stop.

'No sooner had the police officers stopped than the rampaging youth doused one of the vehicles with petrol and were about to set it ablaze but for the timely intervention of a police officer,' he narrated.

The prosecutor said some police personnel who happened to be at the scene, had to run for dear lives as the mob surged forward armed with guns.

He said that the windscreen of the regional commander’s vehicle was smashed.

According to Mr. Nyadu, it took police re-enforcement from Kibi, Koforidua, Accra among others, to bring the situation under control.

'My Lord, the accused persons were among the mob chanting war songs and burning tyres on the streets.'

But Francis Polley and Okpoti Mensah, Counsel for the accused, said the fact as presented by the prosecution lacked substance as they were unable to produce any weapon as exhibit before the court to substantiate the offence preferred against their clients.

They argued further that the prosecution failed to identify at least, one of the accused of having participated in the attack.

'The police have only arrested and detained the accused by the virtue of the fact that their vehicles were vandalised', counsel said.

The accused, who pleaded not guilty were granted bail of ¢20 million with a surety each by the court presided over by Mr. Justice Nicholas C.K. Agbevor.

They are to appear again on February 7, 2007. Granting the bail, Justice Agbevor cautioned the accused against disturbing the peace in Suhum.