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15.12.2009 General News

Court releases soldiers being held for murder

By gna
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Accra, Dec. 15, GNA - The Human Rights Division of the Fast Track High Court on Tuesday ordered the immediate release of four soldiers who were being held for the murder of Mr Rokko Frimpong, former Deputy Managing Director of the Ghana Commercial Bank (GCB).

The court described the continued detention of the soldiers as unlawful and non-compliance of the tenets of the 1992 Constitution.

"I hereby order that the applicants to be released from the custody of the BNI or any Police station forthwith," the court ordered.

This was after the Court had upheld a motion for Habeas Corpus filed by the lawyers of the soldiers.

Mr Joe Aboagye-Debrah, one of the counsels, had filed a motion for Habeas Corpus for the spouses of the soldiers, Sergeant Michael Arthur, Sergeant Richard Somuah and Corporal Charles Ankumah and Corporal Emmanuel Antwi.

The soldiers were arrested on November 13 and 14, 2009 in connection with activities of the redenomination exercise in 2007 and their alleged involvement in the murder of Mr Frimpong.

The soldiers, who were arrested by the military, were transferred to custody of the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI).

Their spouses in search of them proceeded to the offices of the BNI but were told that they were not there.

Thus, the soldiers' spouses filed a motion of habeas corpus invoking the orders of the Court compelling the Attorney General and Director of the BNI, Mr Yaw Donkor to produce the soldiers.

A day before the hearing of the motion the BNI produced the soldiers before an Accra Circuit Court which remanded the four into lawful custody.

On December 2, the Fast Track High Court gave the BNI a seven-day ultimatum to explain the continuous detention of the four soldiers and fixed December 15 to deliver its ruling in respect of the motion.

Delivering her ruling, the Court presided over by Justice Mrs. Irene Danquah, a Court of Appeal Judge, sitting with additional responsibility as a High Court Judge, said the court agreed with the state that the issues and charges preferred against the soldiers were not only sensitive but grave. However, the rights of the applicants should also be considered.

It agreed with the state that the BNI erred in keeping the soldiers in custody.

According to the court a look at matter before the Circuit Court showed that there were no proceedings warranting their arrest and continued detention stressing that the date by which the warrants were obtained was not properly done.

It noted the BNI, after putting the soldiers before the circuit Court, meant that it was "cutting grass neatly at their feet."

The court noted that there were no proceedings from the Circuit Court warranting their continuous detention and wondered if the lower court was aware of the motion of the Habeas Corpus pending before the High Court.

According to the court a look at the nature of offence against the accused persons required that the state provided the soldiers with legal counsel but this the state failed to do so.

"The military that arrested the applicants and the BNI are deemed to have known that the Constitution mandated them to bring persons arrested to court within 48 hours."

It further cautioned the BNI to respect the rights of all persons as embodied in the 1992 Constitution saying the document enjoined the Legislature, Judiciary and Executive to protect the rights of all.

Soon after the ruling families of the soldiers jubilated. The soldiers later left the court premises.

GNA

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