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15.05.2007 General News

Daasebre's Trial Lessons

Presently, Daasebre Gyamenah, one of the iconic Ghanaian highlife musicians, would return home to a hero's welcome, a free and innocent man, after spending almost a year in a British jail on suspicion of carrying a narcotic substance.

We all have cause to be ecstatic and joyful about this development. We need to be grateful to God for his discharge and acquittal because he has something positive to contribute to national development.

As it is said in Ghana, disgrace does not befit any of our citizens ("animguase mfata okanni ba").

In the euphoria, we have come to appreciate the need for the rule of law and due process. We have, as the jury did, also come to the conclusion that Daasebre Gyamenah did not knowingly carry the drug in his luggage.

Daasebre Gyamenah is thus innocent and whoever might have put the evil parcel in the luggage to cause the downfall of the music icon could not succeed. The evil would be on that person's head.

The effect of all this has boosted our trust and confidence in the judicial system. We are not interested in the technicalities involved. Daasebre Gyamenah did not do anything criminal and the court has affirmed his innocence. The rule of law has triumphed.

However, if the trial had taken place in any court within Ghana and the jury had come to the same verdict, it would have attracted vicious, partisan and acrimonious debate.

Definitely, if the trial had taken place within our polarised society, some would have argued that the judgement went the way it did, because of the level of corruption within the judiciary, nepotism, the ethnic background of the jury or the political party the suspect belonged to.

The discussion would never have been focused on any technical or structural qualities in the interpretation of the law.

We need to have confidence in our own legal system and trust that those who have the onerous duty of interpreting the law would at all times demonstrate goodwill towards parties. Our judges can equally deliver erudite judgements.

There must be certainty about the law. More important, judgements or decisions of the courts are informed by hard evidence adduced before the court, never on hearsay or assumptions.

Therefore, if a suspect is brought before a court but there is no evidence upon which to base a conviction, the court would have no alternative but to discharge and acquit the suspect.

Similarly, where the Attorney-General's office cannot find a law upon which to prefer the charges, it would advise against prosecution.

Accordingly, in situations where suspected robbers or thieves are put on trial but there is not enough evidence to convict them, the court would free them.

Conviction must not leave room for any doubt; it should be based on evidence that is beyond reasonable doubt. Any probability of doubt must inure to the benefit of the suspect.

We are happy and grateful that Daasebre Gyamenah was not convicted but has been acquitted and discharged.