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08.12.2010 Crime & Punishment

Court orders 2 soldiers into police custody

By Times
Court orders 2 soldiers into police custody
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The Accra Fast Track High Court has ordered the Military High Command to transfer the two persons being tried for the murder of Alhaji Issa Mobila, the late Northern Regional Chairman of the Convention People's Party, to prison custody with immediate effect.

Although the Tamale High Court on March 24, 2009 remanded Corporal Yaw Appiah and Private Eric Modzaka to prison custody, the order remained flouted as the two have since been in the custody of the military.

Reinforcing the March 24, 2009 order on Tuesday, Justice Senyo Dzamefeh, a Court of Appeal judge, raised issues with the continuous detention of the two by the military command.

"It keeps worrying me that the Tamale High Court order is still being flouted. I don't know the authority or the basis on which the military is still keeping them," he said.

He noted that per the case record, that order had not been overturned; hence, the military command has no authority to keep the accused persons in their barracks.

Justice Dzamefeh said the military command should not think that because the accused persons are soldiers, they could be kept in military custody at will, adding "nobody is above the law, as such, the court order must be respected."

He consequently asked the two military police escorts who brought the accused persons to court, to inform their superiors to transfer the two to the Nsawam prisons since from hence, it would be impossible to take them to the Tamale prisons.

The two persons are being tried on two counts of conspiracy and murder. A third accused person, Private Seth Goka, who is said to be on the run is being tried in absentia.

Meanwhile, the court has given the prosecution three days to file a motion on reasons why the recuperated foreman who was replaced should be re-empanelled.

The defence had prayed the court for the reconstituted juror to hear the case from the scratch but the prosecution opposed and urged the court to re-empanel the foreman whose ailment necessitated the reconstitution of the jurors.

The court was supposed to have given its ruling on the matter on Tuesday, after it had met with both the prosecution and the counsel in chambers at the last sitting.

But the court said yesterday that for records purposes, the prosecution should file a motion to that effect for the defence to respond appropriately to enable the court to resolve the issue.

In view of the situation, the case has been adjourned to December 16.

The prosecution ended its case on March 31, after seven witnesses had testified. The prosecution tendered in evidence of the committal processes on the three accused persons to support its case.

Alhaji Mobila was allegedly tortured to death at the Kamina Baracks on December 9, 2004 after being transferred from the Tamale Police to the Military Barracks.

According to the prosecution, the three accused persons were on duty when Alhaji Mobila was taken to the military custody.

The prosecution told the court that on December 9, 2004, shortly after Alhaji Mobila was taken into custody at the Military Barracks, he told the guards on duty that he (Mobila) was thirsty following which he was given water.

According to the prosecution, "he took a sip and three hours later, he was dead."

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