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22.06.2009 Crime & Punishment

Cocaine suspects refused bail

By Daily Guide
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Not even the submission by the Chief State Attorney, Esiama Asampong, that he did not have any objection to the granting of bail to the five accused persons, with the exception of Augustina Abu, standing trial for allegedly importing 61 parcels of cocaine in a toffee laden  container, could help the accused persons.

They were refused bail by an Accra Fast Track High Court, presided over by Judge Justice Clemence Hornyenugah for the second time.

Giving his verdict on the bail applications by counsel for Ms Abu, Yaw Atta Nkansah, Alfred Amedzi, Kennedy Osei Simon Fafa Bedi and Francis Abbey, the judge noted that even though Article 14(4) of the Constitution says that an accused person should not be detained in the case where there is unreasonable delay, he also took into consideration, the fact that in narcotics related offences, bail was not granted as well as the fact that they were arrested a month ago.

According to him, the Article did not say what unreasonable delay was but he was of the opinion that one month was still within a reasonable time as the State Attorney had earlier explained that they were in touch with some international collaborators from America and Britain to assist in investigations and needed more time.

Before refusing the accused persons bail on the grounds that the delay was not unreasonable, the judge noted that cocaine cases took a long time to prosecute and therefore required thorough investigations.

The case has subsequently been adjourned to July 6, 2009.

The accused persons have been charged with conspiracy to commit crime while Abu has been accused of importation of narcotics substance with lawful authority.

The State Attorney, on the last hearing, said with the exception of Abu, he had no objection to the granting of bail to the other accused persons.

 He said investigations so far have revealed that Abu was the importer of the substance and should not be granted bail; a claim which her counsel did not take kindly to.

Addo Atua, counsel for Abu, stated that his client had the right to fair trial under the constitution, and it was only reasonable that she breathed some air of freedom, if the other alleged accomplices were granted bail.       

The facts of the case are that on May 19, an MV Maersk ship containing 1,880 cartons of chewing gum also included cocaine from Equador, Panama and Spain and arrived at the Tema port for the recipient, Augustina Abu.

The state attorney stated that personnel made up of officers from the Narcotics Control Board, Customs Exercise and Preventive Service, the Bureau of National Investigations and the police, upon a tip-off, had monitored it until the said container, MSKU, carrying the cocaine substance, was scanned and later confirmed that e some of the contents of the container was cocaine.

Mr. Asampong, who noted that the cocaine was found among sachets of chewing gum, also said a field test was immediately carried out on the substance which proved positive for cocaine, leading to the arrest of the accused persons.

By Fidelia Achama

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