The admissibility or otherwise of a secret voice recording of the five persons who took part in the recorded conversation on the missing 77 parcels of cocaine in ACP Kofi Boakye's house yesterday forced the Accra Fast Track High Court to adjourn the case to March 28, 2007.
The court, presided over by Mr Justice Jones Dotse, a Court of Appeal judge sitting with additional responsibility as a High Court judge, adjourned the case after the defence team had raised an objection to the tendering of the CD containing the secret voice recording.
While the defence maintained that the secret voice recording infringed the rights and privacy of the accused persons, the prosecution stated that the secret recording was to demonstrate to the court the voices of those who participated in the conversation which took place in ACP Boakye's house.
According to the defence team, the admissibility of the secret voice recording would also create unfair prejudice and danger, while interfering with the privacy of the accused persons.
But the prosecution responded that the issue was not about the relevance of the material on the CD but to show the court the true voices of those who took part in the controversial recording in ACP Boakye's house.
Detective Inspector Charles Abada, the seventh prosecution witness, who spoke on the secret voice recording during his evidence-in-chief, said he recorded the voices after a voice and speech expert in the United Kingdom (UK) had requested for a fresh voice recording of those who took part in the conversation in ACP Boakye's house.
He said based on the request by J. P. French and Associates, the voice experts, "I recorded the voices of those mentioned in the conversation without their knowledge so that they would not disguise their voices and forwarded it to the UK."
The witness said the experts, on receiving the fresh recorded voice, requested for an Akan linguistic expert, since parts of the conversation were in Akan.
Therefore, he said, he sought one from the University of Ghana, Legon, and linked him up with the experts in the UK.
The subject of the recorded conversation is the result of the trial of Kwabena Amaning, alias Tagor, who is facing four counts of conspiracy, engaging in prohibited business related to narcotic drugs, buying of narcotic drugs and supplying narcotic drugs, and Alhaji Issa Abbas, who faces two counts of conspiracy and supply of narcotic drugs.
They have pleaded not guilty to all the counts and have been refused bail by the court.
According to Inspector Abada, he recorded the voices of Abbas and Tagor on November 1 and 2, 2006, respectively, when they were on remand at the Ankaful and Sekondi prisons.
Similarly, he said he recorded the voices of the other persons, namely, ACP Boakye, Kwabena Akyeampong and Alhaji Imoro.
He said Abbas had indicated during the conversation that he was once arrested by the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) when he went to withdraw $495,000 which had been transferred into his accounts at the SG-SSB Bank.
Inspector Abada also apprised the court with the modus operandi of people involved in the narcotic business and stated, for instance, that the dealers, always suspicious of one another, used certain terminology and also used their drivers in transactions.
He said whenever the term 'business' was mentioned in conversations involving the dealers, it meant cocaine, while 'key(s)' (Safoa/Nsafoa in Akan) meant a kilogramme(s) of cocaine.
Cocaine, he said, was also referred to as 'goods' (Niema in Akan) and when the dealers experienced bad business, they said "the line was spoilt".
Asked what he did regarding Mama Tess who was mentioned in the course of the conversation, the witness replied that he followed up to a company called Platinum Furniture Ventures where he was informed that it was owned by Mama Tess who had travelled outside the country and had since not returned.
Inspector Abada further said Abbas mentioned in the conversation that Asem Dakeh Sherrif, who was referred to as the Limping Man (Apakye in Akan) arranged a vessel to cart the 77 parcels of cocaine and it was true that Sheriff hired the MV Benjamin.
He said he visited the vessel at the Tema Harbour during his investigations and realised at the time of his visit that its cabin had been set on fire.
The vessel, he said, belonged to Dashment Shipping Services and that in the conversation, it was stated that it was owned by Kojo Dawson.
The court overruled an objection by the defence that the witness could not give evidence on the seating arrangement of the people engaged in the conversation in ACP Boakye's house because he was not present.
According to the defence, since the witness was not present during the conversation, his evidence was based on hearsay and ought not to be admitted. But that was overruled.
The court ruled that the investigator had gone to the scene and his findings were what he told the court and so it was up to the defence to listen and then cross-examine him on that.
Story by Stephen Sah