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27.04.2007 General News

Lawyers reject police account

By Joe Lartey

A team of crack lawyers representing the family of Collins Okyere, alias Nana Kwame Sarpong who died I the Kumasi Central Police Cells has called for another autopsy on the corpse of the deceased. The lawyers are disputing the police report which sought to indicate that Collins Okyere's death was as a result of "severe head injury and trauma.

Nana Asante Bediatuo and Gabby Otchere Darko of Ampem chambers and Kwame Akufo of Akufo, Prempeh and Co law firm said the police report issued on April 25, 2007 and signed by Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Jordan Quaye of the Police Public Affairs Unit of the Ashanti Regional Police Headquarters in Kumasi contradicts eye witnesses reports which claimed that about eight policemen subjected the deceased to severe beatings using objects such as copper wires, belts and lorry tyre strands leading to swellings on the arms and shoulders of the deceased.

According to Otchere Darko who is also the Editor-in-Chief of The Statesman initial checks have proven that the deceased was not physically attacked a the time of his arrest on April 18, 2007 and no injury was found on him 24 hours after his arrest which indicates that the deceased did to resist arrest. He said evidence gathered from the family of the deceased and that of other witnesses point to a battering of the deceased by police officers at the Central Police Station of Kumasi which conflicts with the report issued by the police.

Otchere Darko noted that the late Kwame Sarpong after the assault on him by the police was deriled medical attention and that there were attempts to cover up his death in the police cells when his body was bundled and deposited under a pile of other corpses at the Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital (KATH) mortuary with firm instructions to the mortuary attendants not to grant anybody including members of the family of the deceased access to the corpse. He said initial investigations conducted from photographs taken of the corpse confirmed lacerations on the legs and other parts of the deceased casting doubt over the police reports.

Otchere Darko said he and his team are perplexed that a coroner of the Magistrate District Court in Kumasi should issue a report paving the way for the burial of the deceased when initial investigations point to the fact that the deceased died under what is clearly suspicious circumstances. “In such cases the basic duty of a coroner is to order investigations for a possible murder and instructed another autopsy,” he intimated.

Otchere Darko said what is also baffling is that the coroner"s report was dated December 4, 2006 whilst the deceased died on April 21, 2007 thereby casting further doubts about the report of the unnamed coroner. He said the legal team has instructed the family not to remove the body of the deceased from the mortuary and assured that no stone would be left unturned until the cause of justice is truly served in this matter.

Meanwhile the mother of the deceased, Theresa Manu has described the account by the police as a pack of lies meant to obfuscate and conceal the truth about his son's murder at the hands of the police. She told The Statesman that his son a father of two teenage daughters is not an armed robber and never confessed to being one to the police as the police report sought to portray.

Madam Manu said she personally witnessed alongside other family members the brutality meted out to the deceased by the police and rejected claims that the deceased hit his head against the cell walls several times in protest of his detention. It will be recalled that the Kumasi striking Force of the Police on April 18, 2007 arrested Kilventus Urbernoll 22, Akua Amponsah 19 and Nana Kwame Sarpong 35, on suspected robbery of five Opel Astra taxi cabs but Sarpond died in the police cells after allegedly beaten by police officers for two consecutive days.