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18.06.2008 Feature Article

Re: ``Pardon or not, Dan Abodakpi is guilty as pronounced``

Re:  ``Pardon or not, Dan Abodakpi is guilty as pronounced``
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We act as Solicitors for Honourable Dan Abodakpi, the Member of Parliament for Keta, whose attention has been drawn to a feature article which appeared on page 3 of the Friday June 13, 2008 edition of your newspaper. The article was written by a certain Daniel Danquah Damptey. We have been instructed to respond to the article by way of a rejoinder.

Ordinarily our client would have ignored what was obviously an ill-informed article but for the fact that the appeal against his conviction and sentence is still pending before the Court of Appeal and judgment in respect thereof is scheduled to be delivered on Thursday June 2008. While not begrudging the writer his political frustrations with the President for remitting the sentences of our client, it is clear from the article that he was well aware of the pendency of our client's appeal and yet proceeded to make statements that are clearly prejudicial to its outcome. We refer in particular to the following passages:

“The pardon to Dan Abodakpi, the NDC insists, has gone a long way to give credence to the fact that the Keta MP as innocent after all.
“Innocent Indeed! But was the innocent after all? And what message is our Gentle Giant sending across to Ghanaians of all shades and colours? And what does the President want the family of the late Justice Afreh to feel. And if we should accept the mindset of the hawks in NDC, is the presidential pardon not an indictment of the president himself?

“The fact still remains that Dan Abodakpi dipped his fingers very deep into the state coffers and got them soiled in the process. The pardon is just to set aside the conviction and sentencing. It does not eliminate the fact that he has been to “kukum” [PRISON] and the tag of a convict will remain with him all the days of his life……

“And if we should pardon criminals, the pardon should go those who have spent more that fifteen year on remand without their cases being heard. And if we should pardon criminals, shouldn't it go to those whose conviction were on circumstantial evidence and this convicted in errors?

Such presidential pardon should not go to pen robbers. We are soft on those who steal with pen but harsh on those who rob with gun. Infact people like Dan Abodakpi nearly brought the nation to its knees by their actions…….”

It is quite clear from the above that the writer knows very little about the subject he was writing about.

(1) The pardon that was granted to our client was in the nature of a remission of sentence. That kind of pardon does not wipe out either conviction or sentence. The sentence remains. The convict is only saved from serving all of it.

(2) Pardons are granted only to those who have undergone trial and have been convicted. Remand prisoners are not pardoned; they are discharged.

(3) Convictions based on circumstantial evidence are not necessarily bad in law. The law however imposes very stringent requirements when convicting on circumstantial evidence. Such evidence must be so compelling that it should point irresistibly to guilt, and only guilt. If such evidence is capable of some other interpretation, conviction based on it would be bad in law. The writer may wish to know that one of the strongest point raised on appeal on behalf of the Honourable Member of Parliament. Such evidence must be so compelling that is should point irresistibly to guilt, and only guilt. If such evidence is capable of some other interpretation, conviction based on it would be bad in law. The writer may wish to know that one of the strongest points raised on appeal on behalf of the Honourable Member of Parliament was that his conviction was based wholly on unconvincing circumstantial evidence.

(4) Our client has noticed that in his haste to disparage him, the writer had somehow confused his case with the Quality Grain case, over which the late Mr. Justice Afreh presided. The judge who presided over our client's case was Mr. Justice Farkye, who to the best of our client's knowledge, is still alive. Even if it was Mr. Justice Afreh who had presided over our client's case, it is puzzling how the subsequent pardon would affect his family, unless they had a vested interest in the outcome of the trial and conviction. Our client would be surprised if the family of the late Justice Afreh would proclaim or admit such personal interest in cases over which he presided during his lifetime.

(5) It was never suggested by the prosecution, (either during trial or indeed in their written statements), that our client benefited personally from the contract that was awarded to Doctor Boadu to prepare a baseline study of the establishment of the science and technology valley. The suggestions therefore that our client dipped his hands deep into state coffers as if to suggest that he stole from the state, and the statement that he actually stole by the pen, are malicious in the extreme and are neither supported by the facts nor any evidence led in court.

The more grievous conduct of the writer lies in the emphatic manner in which he has suggested that our client is guilty of the offences against which, (to the writer's knowledge), he has appealed. Our client has instructed us to say that while not begrudging the writer the somehow jaundiced or warped political views that were expressed in the article, it is wholly contemptuous of court to pronounce so definitely on his guilt in circumstances where judgment in the case is scheduled to be delivered on June 20, 2008, under a week from the date of the publication of the article. The writer had effectively usurped the powers and authority of the Court of Appeal to hear and determine the guilt or innocence of our client. One could have ordinarily overlooked some of the comments contained in the article had there been no indication that the writer was aware of the pendency of the Appeal. However, to acknowledge that fact and yet proceed to make such prejudicial statements, smacks of a deliberate attempt to whip up public sentiment against our client in a manner that may undermine the outcome of the judgment of the Court of Appeal.

But for the fact that the date for judgment is so near and that any action may detract from the real issues that are pending before the Court of Appeal, we, on our part, would have strongly urged our client to initiate contempt proceedings against both the Chronicle and the writer.

Our client hopes your newspaper will publish this rejoinder (unedited) before Thursday June 20, 2008, when judgment in his case will be delivered by the Court of Appeal.

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