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03.03.2004 Crime & Punishment

Bail of suspected drug barons cancelled by new judge

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Accra March 3, GNA- An Appeal Court in Accra on Wednesday ordered that the six persons alleged to have indulged in shipping 588.33 kilogrammes of cocaine into the country, be kept in prison custody. By a unanimous decision, the three-member panel of the court, presided over Mr Justice Stephen T. Farkye, with Mr Justice R T Aninakwah and Mr Justice J Dotse as members, therefore, rescinded the decision of the Regional Tribunal in granting the bail. The decision of the court, followed an appeal filed on behalf of the State by Mr Anthony Gyambiby, Chief State Attorney, against the ruling by the Regional Tribunal, which admitted the accused persons to bail. The accused persons are Kevin Gorman, 59, American, Mohammed Ibrahim Kamil, Alan Hodson 45, David Logan 43, Frank Lavelrick 43, all British and 45-year-old Sven Herb, a German. They were accused of conspiring and possessing narcotic drugs without authority.
Gorman was additionally charged with using his house for narcotic offence.
The six, pleaded not guilty during their trial at the Accra Regional Tribunal, where each of them was granted a 300-million-cedi bail with two sureties to be justified.
The Court of Appeal noted that there was no law in the country that prohibited granting of bail to those who commit narcotic offence, but stated further that the trial judge should have used his discretion judiciously.
The Court also noted that the trial judge erred and should have considered the severity and gravity of narcotic offence. It said the trial judge did not take into account that the accused persons did not have fixed places of abode.
It also stated that the trial judge did not consider that some of the accused persons were international businessmen and as such had in their possession a number of passports.
It said each of two of the accused persons, for instance, had three passports on them and could have travelled outside the country any time.
The court, therefore, noted that the tribunal, in granting the bail, failed to realise that the accused persons, having sensed the gravity of the offence with its corresponding punishment, could have easily absconded.
Attorneys for the accused persons are Mr Thaddeus Sory, Mr Ellis Owusu Fodwuoh, Mr Addo Attuah and Mr Koblah Senanu.
They expressed dissatisfaction at the judgement, but did not declare their intention to appeal against the judgement.
Earlier, Mr Gyambiby, had told the Court that on January 7, this year, the Narcotic Control Board (NACOB) acted on intelligence information from its international agencies and mounted surveillance on the activities of the respondents.
According to Mr Gyambiby, investigations also revealed that Hodgson, a building contractor and a nephew of Gorman, constructed a false compartment in the wall at Gorman's residence in Tema, where the drugs were carefully concealed behind a big mirror.

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