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10.06.2009 Crime & Punishment

6 Suspects Refused Bail

By Stephen Kwabena Effah - newtimesonline.com
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The Accra Fast Track High Court on Monday refused bail for the six persons who allegedly imported 71.45 kilogramme of suspected cocaine into the country. The court, presided over by Justice C.J. Honyenuga, has fixed June 18, to hear the case.

 Augustina Abu, a business woman, Yaw Atta Nkansah, Alfred Amedzi, Kennedy Osei and Simon Fafa Bedy, all clearing agents and Francis Abbey, a driver, were on June 4, charged with conspiracy to commit crime to wit narcotic offence and importation of narcotic drugs.

They pleaded not guilty to the charges, following which their counsel made oral submissions and applications for bail for them.

Refusing the bail application, the court held that it was pre-mature to consider bail in the case, especially when it was a narcotic case, indicating that it was significant that the court took into account the public interest, international treaties on narcotics to which the country was a signatory to, and whether the accused would not abscond or be available for trial.

The court described as “unsustainable,” counsel's arguments that the prosecution's facts did not support the charge of conspiracy levelled against the accused persons, and said the facts supported the charge of conspiracy.

Following the refusal and subsequent dismissal of the bail application, counsel for the accused persons prayed the court to expedite trial in view of the fact that the liberty of the accused persons is being curtailed although they have pleaded not guilty.

They wondered why, the accused persons were being treated as if they had been found guilty adding, “the prosecution come here usually to tell the court investigation is still on going”

Counsel therefore, urged the court to give the prosecution a firm date for trial to start.

Responding, Principal State Attorney, Asiamah Sampong, said there was a new development in the case which requires further investigations, hence the application for two weeks adjournment.

However, Justice Honyenuga said an early trial is the best, especially in view of the fact that the liberties of the accused persons are restrained, and thus fixed June 18 to hear the case.

The six were initially arraigned before the Fast Track High Court presided over by Justice Mrs. Iris-May Brown, an Appeal Court Judge, on May 23 who granted them bail under strict conditions, and subsequently discharged them on May 29, following a “nolle prosequi” filed by the prosecution.

However, they were re-arrested moments after their discharge on the same day, and put before Justice Honyenuga, who remanded them without any charge until June 4, when they were officially charged and their plea taken.

The prosecution's case that on May 15, 2009, MV Maersk Nolanville docked at the Tema Port with a number of containers from Ecuador, Panama and Spain, among which was one with the number MSK U-0118160.

It said that the container manifested to contain 1,880 cartons of chewing gum was imported by Agustina Abu of Abu Enterprise. Personnel of Joint Port Control Unit tagged the said container which meant that it could only be opened and examined in their presence.

According to the prosecution, on May 19, 2009, at about 3:30pm, the said container was scanned and the image disclosed that it contained suspicious objects. During a thorough examination, two carrier bags containing 61 slabs of whitish substances suspected to be cocaine were found among the sachets of chewing gum.

It said that a field test of the substances was conducted and it proved positive as cocaine.

The prosecution said that the accused persons were subsequently arrested and the substance forwarded to the Ghana Standards Board for analytical examination.

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