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13.03.2009 Crime & Punishment

Drug suspects clock three-and-half years in custody

By The Ghanaian Times

Two men who have been in prison custody for almost four years without trial, made a passionate appeal to an Accra circuit court on Wednesday to facilitate their trial since they have suffered enough in prison.

The two, Charles Baah and Christopher Adjei, were arrested on September 14, 2005 and are facing a charge of possessing Indian hemp without lawful authority.

They have pleaded not guilty.
Adjei told the court presided over by Iddrisu Mahamadu that his father and mother died through a car accident as they journeyed to court to witness one of their appearances.

Further, he said, at a point in time in the prison, “I became seriously sick and had it not been for God, I would have been dead by now,” he said in a sombre mood as he stood in the dock.

Baah, on his part, said he had been denied medical attention since he was arrested in September 2005, in spite of a plastic surgery he had undergone some four years ago.

He alleged that for the almost four years that he has been in custody, he has not received any medication or treatment, and neither has he seen a doctor, he sad in Twi.

As a result, he said, he had developed some complication, noting that his head and eye had been aching.

According to him, he notified the prison authorities about his conditions, but he was told remand prisoners were not catered for.

Baah told the court that he did not know anything about the Indian hemp for which he was arrested and could not understand why he had been placed in custody since 2005 without trial.

According to him, they were first put before the Madina magistrate court before the case was later transferred to the City Engineers court, but all without trial.

In late 2008, the case was transferred by the Chief Justice to the Circuit Court.

The two accused persons said the current trial judge (Mr. Mahamadu) promised them a speedy trial when they first appeared before him late last year. The judge on his part, said although he appreciated their concerns, he could not start the case.

“I have to concentrate on my part-heard cases,” he explained, adding, “I'm close to finishing them, hopefully by the end of the month”.

He said that he had directives from the Chief Justice as to the number of cases to take on at a time.

Further, the judge said he did not know the history of the case since the docket on the case had been changed, and therefore, asked the prosecution to attach the old docket to the new one to enable him to have an idea of the case's history.

He consequently remanded them in police custody until March 25.

Mr. Mahamadu, however urged the police investigator, Detective Corporal Philip Enipah, to assist the accused persons, saying "show them some human face. They are only suspects and not convicts".

The judge asked the investigator to notify the accused persons families or relatives whenever they are given medical prescriptions to buy.

It is the prosecution's case that the Kwabenya police on September 14, 2005 arrested the two accused persons in a bush near the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission during a patrol duty.

According to the prosecution, on seeing the police, some people in the bush took to their heels but the police managed to arrest the two accused persons and a search on the scene recovered 22 grammes of Indian hemp.