The trial of alleged Mobilla killers Security of jurors would be endangered if...
The Fast Track Court (FTC) trying three soldiers accused of murdering the former Northern Regional Chairman of the Convention People's Party (CPP), Alhaji Issa Mohammed, also known as Issa Mobila, has held that the security of jurors would be endangered if their particulars are provided ahead of time.
The court, presided over by Justice Senyo Dzamefe, gave the decision yesterday, when it refused an application from the counsel for the accused persons, requesting to be provided with the list of prospective jurors expected to be empanelled for the trial of his clients.
The court further noted that the prospective jurors stand the risk of being influenced, victimised and intimidated, if their names and particulars are made available.
In its ruling, the court noted that there was no law that warrants the accused persons to be provided the list and details of jurors likely to assist in adjudicating the crimes leveled against them.
According to him, even though the accused persons are not entitled to the list of jurors ahead of time, the defense had the right to challenge the presence of a person on the list, which could be done when they are officially sworn in.
The accused persons, Cpl. Appiah Yaw and Private Modzaka Eric, who are currently in military custody well as Private Goka, who is declared absent without official leave (AWOL) by the 1 Infantry Battalion (1BN) at Michel Camp, are expected to be tried by a jury.
Mr. Thaddeus Sory, in his request, argued that under the Criminal Procedure Act, there was an implied right for the defense to have knowledge of who the jurors would be, and to challenge, if necessary.
The counsel was of the view that under the Constitution, his clients were entitled to all the rights necessary to facilitate their defense.
However, in a swift rebuttal of the request and accompanying arguments of the defense, Mr. Edward Agyemang Dodoo, Chief State Attorney, noted that under the criminal procedure, the accused persons had the right to challenge three of the jurors without providing any reason, adding that there were specific reasons under which the accused persons could challenge for specific reasons.
The state prosecutor argued that no where under the criminal code has it indicated that the accused persons should be provided the whole list of prospective jurors, stressing that supplying the names of the jurors, had an attendant risk of either being influenced or intimidated.
In this respect, the Chief State Attorney asserted that a diligent search about the background of jurors to determine their mind set, would be an act in futility, as he emphasised that obtaining names and particulars of jurors from the court registry, would not be proper.
The three accused persons are facing two counts of conspiracy and murder of Issa Mobila, who was also the then Chairman of the Tamale/Bolgatanga branch of the Ghana Private Road Transport Union (GPRTU), however their pleas were not taken by the court.
All the accused persons were on duty at the Kamina Barracks at Tamale in the Northern Region, with 1st accused, Cpl. Appiah Yaw, being the Commander of the Guards, under whose protection the deceased person, Issa Mobila, before his death, was placed.
Issa Mobila had surrendered himself to the police in Tamale, when he got information from his wife that the police were looking for him, after the latter had gone to the house of the former on December 9, 2004 to arrest him for suspecting that he had supplied the youth with guns and ammunitions the previous day to cause mayhem during the heat of political campaigning in the region.
The deceased was then arrested and detained in respect of a gun-firing incidence in the late hours of December 8, 2004 at Werizehi, a suburb of Tamale, after the police took a caution statement from Issa Mobila.
The police further impounded a BMW car with registration number GR 2772 Q belonging to the deceased, and conducted a search, but found nothing incriminating.
The court was told that subsequently, the police had information that the youth were going to besiege the police station for the possible release of Issa Mobila, as a result of which, during a meeting of the Regional Security Council, a decision was taken to transfer the then CPP Regional Chairman to the Military at Kamina Barracks for safekeeping.
The prosecution told the court that the police handed over the deceased at about 3:00 p.m., fit and sound, to the Military at Kamina Barracks, however, Issa Mobilla was taken to the Medical Reception Station (MRS) of the barracks at about 8:00 p.m. with mass of violence all over his body, and pronounced dead.
Meanwhile, a request from state prosecutors to have the two remaining accused persons placed in prison custody, attracted a response from the court, indicating that the Tamale High Court, before which the accused persons were initially standing trial, had already made a ruling to that effect.
According to the court, the earlier order from the Tamale High court, indicating that the accused persons should be placed in prison custody to facilitate their trial, still holds, and therefore has nothing to do with the order.
“I leave it as it is”, the court emphasised. The case has consequently been adjourned to January 14, 2010.