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21.12.2007 General News

Osei To Face Fresh Charges

Thomas Osei, the 51-year-old man at the centre of President Kufuor's car crash, will be put before an Accra Fast Track High Court this morning on fresh charges.

The acting Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Ms Gertrude Aikins, who led a team of prosecutors to the Accra Magistrate Court to announce that the prosecution was unwilling to prosecute the matter, did not indicate what new charges would be preferred against him.

She said all the facts so far gathered had to be put together in the preparation of fresh charges.
Osei, who was facing four counts of dangerous driving, negligently causing harm, driving under the influence of alcohol and failing to give way to a Presidential convoy, was discharged by the court after the prosecution had filed a nolle prosequi (unwilling to prosecute).

He was, however, re-arrested as soon as he went out of the court by policemen who were standing outside and escorted into a waiting car.

The court was to give its ruling on an application for bail made by counsel for the accused person at the last sitting but that had to be abandoned because of the latest development.

Counsel for the accused person, Mr Kwame Akuffo, told the court that his prediction at the last sitting had come to pass because on that day he had indicated that a caution statement relating to a charge of attempted murder had been taken from his client.

According to counsel, the plan of the prosecution was to discharge his client, re-arrest him and put him before another court on fresh charges.

The prosecutor, Mr Edward Agyeman Duodu, a Principal State Attorney, had prayed the court to adjourn the matter to today because new facts had emerged, while certain aspects of the matter were still being investigated.

Although the prosecutor said those aspects which had emerged could not be made public and that at the right time appropriate charges would be preferred against Osei to enable his plea to be taken, Mr Akuffo said an adjournment would be an attempt to keep his client in custody and later charge him with a different offence of attempted murder.

Counsel said the charges which were preferred against Osei emanated from investigations conducted into the matter and that he did not know what other charges were to be preferred against his client to warrant his continuous remand.

He drew the court's attention to the fact that Christmas was approaching and if the prayer of the prosecution was allowed, then the accused would spend Christmas in custody.

According to counsel, the accused had been interviewed in relation to the incident, while his relatives and friends had also been interviewed and his workplace visited, all within 28 days.

Counsel argued that the personal liberties of the accused person should not be restrained because investigations into the matter had not been completed and especially when he had already shown remorse.

He said for the past week nobody had interviewed the accused person, an indication that the prosecution wanted him to be kept as a guest or for something else.

Mr Akuffo said with a caution statement relating to attempted murder having been taken from Osei, any attempt to keep him in custody was meant to unreasonably delay the matter.

Mr Duodu conceded that the charges against the accused person were not among those for which bail should be refused, but said since new facts were emerging, it was prudent to remand the accused person so that he did not interfere with the investigations.

“At the appropriate time we will file appropriate charges for the plea of the accused person to be taken,” he noted, and added that “although the offence related to road traffic offence, it is very serious and more than meets the eye because it is not an ordinary road accident”.

On November 16, 2007, Osei was remanded, following a request by Chief Inspector Dora Seiwaah, then the prosecutor, to the court to remand him for investigations to be completed.

The facts of the case are that around 11.30 a.m. on November 14, 2007, Osei, who was driving a Mercedes Benz SE 500 saloon car in the inner lane along the Liberation Link from the direction of Aviance towards the 37 Military Hospital, drove into the rear side of the President's vehicle, in spite of the fact that other motorists had been stopped to allow the President's convoy to pass.

The prosecutor said the impact of the crash forced the President's vehicle to turn around, hit a light pole and, in the process, fell on its right side and landed on a VW Golf saloon car.

All the vehicles involved in the accident got damaged, while the drivers sustained various degrees of injury and were rushed to the 37 Military Hospital for treatment.

The driver of the President's car and the driver of the VW saloon car were treated and discharged, while Osei was admitted for treatment. The President, however, escaped unhurt.

Story by Stephen Sah