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08.01.2004 General News

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AFRC People's Court had no hand in execution of Generals Accra, Jan. 8, GNA- Squadron Leader Kosi Dargbe (rtd), a Witness at the National Reconciliation Commission (NRC) on Thursday said the People's Court under the erstwhile Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) never had a hand in the execution of the eight army generals in 1979. Sqn-Ldr Dargbe, who identified himself as the then Chairman of the People's Court, stated that the court was established after the generals were executed. It's aim was to stop further execution of senior officers who were in detention at the Burma Camp, which the junior ranks were calling for. Sqn-Ldr Dargbe, now a commercial pilot, who described the People's Court as "secret and unorthodox", said it was established by an AFRC Decree, and that his appointment as its chairman was by Station Routine Orders of the Air Force. He named the members of the Court, as Lieutenant Navy Dedeji, Second Lieutenant Kusi, WO-II Blackman, Staff Sergeant Christian and WO-I Kukuya, who was also the recorder and the secretary. Sqn-Ldr Dargbe admitted that the Court sat behind screens at the Entertainment Hall of the Peduase Lodge and tried and sentenced people brought by a Pre-Trial Investigation Team (PIT) before it. He said the People's Court which started sitting at the Air Force Station, had to move to the Peduase Lodge and its work behind the screens, because the junior ranks issued death threats on the panel for passing lighter sentences on people brought before it. They further extended the threats to the AFRC members because they did not know the panel members. He said he could not remember the date of the first sitting of the Court. The Court sat in the evening and tried senior military officers and civilians mainly on the offence of using their positions to amass wealth, the Witness said, adding that its sentences ranged from five to ten years, as well as confiscation of property, subject to the approval of the AFRC. He said the People's Court never sentenced any person brought before it to 90 or 100 years, adding that persons brought before it had no legal representation and could appeal against any judgement. "Everything done by the Court was unorthodox", Sqn-Ldr Dargbe said. In answer to a question, Squadron Leader Dargbe said the PIT, which acted as the prosecutor, announced the names of the accused, and read their charge of using their position to amass wealth to them. He said the accused was then asked to explain how the wealth was acquired. He said in its judgements, the People's Court sometimes acquitted people brought before it, subject to the approval of the AFRC. Sqn-Ldr Dargbe said the guidelines for the operation of the Court were given to them by the then Chief of Staff, and explained that amassing wealth meant owing property and having money in one's bank account far in excess of one's income. He said he once insisted that General Hamidu should not be put in the guardroom. Sqn-Ldr Dargbe said he felt threatened at the time, but he accepted the challenge to be a member of the People's Court to save the officers. He said he stated his misgivings about the People's Court to the Justice Abban Committe that was later set up to review the cases heard under the AFRC. According to Witness, the lifespan of the Court ended on September 24, 1979, when the country went back to constitutional rule. He denied passing sentence on one J.W.K. Harley, a former Inspector General Police (IGP) on October 19, 1979.
Commission Chairman Justice Kweku Etrew Amua-Sekyi said he knew the Peoples Court was not set up before the execution of the generals and added: "Your opinion about the special court is shared by us."
Second Lieutenant Kusi, who is now a serving Lieutenant Colonel, was called to give evidence on the Peoples Court but he was absent. He had been subpoenaed to appear before the Commission, the Chairman said.
Witness tells NRC about execution Accra, Jan 8, GNA- Mr Owusu Boateng, a Witness at the National Reconcilation Commission (NRC) on Thursday said Ex-Major Samuel Boateng Okyere, was executed in 1983, not because of any role in the Giwa's abortive coup, but hatred from Flt Lt Jerry John Rawlings. Mr Boateng, who said he was an uncle to the late army officer, said the countenance of Major Okyere at the trial before his execution showed that he was made to declare complicity under duress. He said the statement of Major Okyere that he attempted the coup together with Giwa was not true.

He said his countenance, and dark complexion, which had turned red indicated probably that he was drugged and put under duress to write that he was going to inform Mr Daniel Ohene Agyekum, his uncle, who later became Ashanti Regional Minister that he had staged a coup with Giwa when he was arrested at Abewase.

According to Mr Boateng, Major Okyere had said that he slapped Flt Lt Rawlings after his failed May 15, 1979 abortive coup, and since then, Flt Lt Rawlings had hated him.

Mr Boateng said Major Okyere had told him that Flt Lt Rawlings had arrested him on May 15 1979, the day of the abortive coup, on his way to work at the Burma Camp but was released by Major Sulemana, who, he said, unarmed Flt Lt Rawlings.

He said upon the release, he slapped the Flt Lt, and he (Okyere) was used as prosecution witness during the trial of Flt. Lt. Rawlings, but the trial never ended when Flt. Lt. Rawlinngs staged a successful comeback on June 4 1979.

He said soldiers killed the then Chairman of the tribunal trying Flt. Lt Rawlings for the May 15 1979 coup, Lt. Col. Enninful and his wife, but when they could not find Major Okyere at home they fired indiscriminately at his house. Mr Boateng said after the December 31 1981 coup, Flt Lt Rawlings handed Major Okyere a letter to move out of Burma Camp and was later prematurely retired from the Armed Forces. He said Major Okyere later got employment with the Ghana Food Distribution Corporation. Mr Boateng said, upon learning that soldiers had come looking for Major Okyere on June 16 1983, in the house of Mr Daniel Ohene Agyekum, an uncle who later became Ashanti Regional Minister, Okyere attempted to flee to Cote d'Ivoire, but was arrested at Half Assini. After three days detention, Major Okyere, whom Mr Boateng said, he accompanied, on his flight was released and Major Okyere initiated other moves to escape, but was arrested on June 19 1983 and linked to the Giwa coup attempt. Mr Boateng said Major Okyere was tried and sentenced to death together with Lt Col Ekow Dennis, and added that Major Okyere was executed on August 13 1983. The Witness said he had information that Flt Lt Rawlings was present when Major Okyere was executed, and the Flt. Lt. remarked that apart from Major Okyere who slapped him, he had never been slapped. The Witness said he had information that Major Okyere was buried in the same pit with Terkpor at Mile 7 on the Winneba Road, and prayed the Commission to help exhume the body to the family for a fitting burial. 08 JAN. 04

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