ISAAC ARHIN, one of the crew of MV Benjamin, the ship which allegedly ferried 77 parcels of cocaine into the country, yesterday stated that the captain of the boat abandoned it to join the canoe into which the cocaine was offloaded.
This was contained in a statement by Isaac, and read by Commander Issah Yakubu, a naval officer, at an Accra Fast-Track High Court, where the accused person is standing trial, together with Joseph Kojo Dawson, owner of the vessel and four others, for their role in the importation of the parcels.
According to Isaac, the parcels of cocaine were loaded onto the vessel in Monrovia, on the Liberian high seas by some unidentified persons, to be carted to Ghana, but this they could not protest against, from fear of losing their lives, until they reached the Tema breakwaters, from where the parcels were taken away.
The accused person stated that as a result, they continued their journey to Ghana, because they wanted to reach their motherland safely.
He stated further that it was after they had reached Ghana that they heard on radio that MV Benjamin had brought some cocaine into the country; and he knew instantly that it was the consignment they had carted to the Tema breakwaters.
The naval officer, who was called to testify as a prosecution witness, told the court, presided over by Justice Anin Yeboah that on April 26, 2006, he was detailed as Captain of the Ghana Naval ship to look out for, and intercept some goods on the high seas, suspected to be narcotic drugs.
Commander Issah, in his evidence in-chief, led by William Kpobi, State Attorney, stated that the name of the ship which they were detailed to intercept was, MV Adade II.
The witness told the court that after a fruitless search on the high seas, they decided to go back to the Tema breakwaters for a break. According to him, it was there that they found a vessel named, MV Benjamin.
This aroused their curiosity, so with their binoculars, they took a clearer look.
Commander Yakubu said they communicated with Isaac Arhin on board MV Benjamin, using radio equipment, asking to know whether they had a sister vessel called MV Adade II, which elicited a negative response.
He then sent some of his team members in a canoe, because Isaac Arhin had earlier told him via telephone that they were trying a faulty engine, but they could see from a distance that the name 'Benjamin', had been freshly painted.
The naval officer said when his team demanded documents from the crew, they told the team that they had no documents, and furthermore, had not been fishing.
This he said, made them more suspicious, so they headed straight for the bridge of the vessel, but found nothing.
He said they then decided to report the matter to the Ghana Armed Forces Naval Headquarters and officers of the Narcotics Control Board (NACOB), led by Ben Ndego.
Later, the naval team, together with officers of NACOB, searched the hatch of the vessel.
According to him, they found the hatch locked, and Phillip Bruce Arhin, another accused person, broke open the hatch in which they found one parcel of a substance suspected to be cocaine; and when the substance was immediately tested, it proved positive for cocaine.
Earlier, he said the fifth accused person, Cui Xian Li, a Chinese, almost physically assaulted them when they were about to open the hatch of the vessel.
The crew was again asked to confess what they knew about the 77 cocaine parcels, but they maintained their innocence, after which their statements were taken. He added that he had a digital camera which was recording what transpired.
Finally, he said there were 30 slabs in the parcel found, and each weighed one kilogramme.
Under cross-examination by Solomon Korny, counsel for the fifth and sixth accused persons, Commander Issah maintained Ciu Xian Li almost assaulted his team physically when the members were searching the hatch, even though he did not record that.
He afterwards tendered in evidence, pictures which were admitted by the court.
The accused, Joseph Kojo Dawson, Pak Bok Sil, Issac Arhin, Phillip Bruce Arhin, Cui Xian Li, and Luo Yin Xing, have all pleaded not guilty to the use of property for narcotic offences, prohibited business relating to narcotic drugs and possession of narcotics without lawful authority.
The case has been adjourned to February 22, 2007, for further hearing.