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General News | Mar 30, 2004

Prison Director ordered to allow counsel access to cocaine suspects

GNA

Accra, March 30 GNA - An Accra High Court on Tuesday ordered the Director of Prisons to allow Counsel access to six suspected drug barons, who smuggled 588.33 kilograms of cocaine into the country. It further asked the Registrar of the Court to notify the Director of Prisons of the order.

The Court further granted an application for leave by Prosecution to amend charges levelled against the six accused persons. The order followed the first appearance at the Court of Kevin Gorman, 59, American; Mohammed Ibrahim Kamil, Ghanaian; Alan Hodson 45, David Logan 43, Frank Lavelrick 43, all British and 45-year-old Sven Herb, a German, who were busted on January 7 at Tema for importing 588.33 kilogrammes of cocaine into the country. They have been charged with conspiracy and possessing narcotic drug without authority. Gorman was additionally charged for using his property for narcotic offence. They have all pleaded not guilty to the charges before An Accra Regional Tribunal, where their trial began.

Mr Anthony Gyambiby, Chief State Attorney, Prosecuting, told the Court that it would like to amend charges brought against the accused persons. He said the Attorney General's Department had received additional information and would like to amend the charges to enable them to charge the accused persons with those additional charges. He explained that A-G could not effect those changes because they did not know the exact court the accused persons were to be arraigned. "We knew we were going to the Regional Tribunal today but we were told that the case had been sent to the High Court. He, therefore, asked the Court presided over by Mr Justice F. Kusi-Appiah, a Court of Appeal Judge, sitting as an additional High Court Judge to grant them leave to enable them to amend the charges.

Defence Counsels did not objected to the oral application but stated that such applications should be written. They further complained about their inability to have access to their clients at the prisons. According them, anytime they visited their clients to receive instructions, "there was no confidentiality, as there was an officer of the Prisons always sitting by taking notes. "This practice did not exist at the Prisons, it only started three weeks ago when our clients were sent there", adding, "this is against fundamental human rights of our clients".

Prosecution in reaction said he was not aware and would verify. The court after listening to both submissions adjourned the matter to April 1. The case of the Prosecution was that Gorman was a Director Shareholder and Operations Manager of a shipping company called Tuna To-Go Limited based in Tema.

On January 7, the Narcotics Control Board (NACOB) and the Drug Enforcement Unit (DLEU) of the Police Service raided the residence of Gorman and discovered bales and parcels of whitish substances suspected to be cocaine concealed in a specially constructed hole or compartment in a wall in the corridor upstairs behind a large dressing mirror. The Chief State Attorney said Gorman with Logan, Lavelrick and Hodgson who were living in the house with him (Gorman) at the time, were confronted with the substance.

Gorman said the bales and parcels were brought there for safe keeping by one Yakuba for a fee of 50,000 dollars. The rest of the suspects including Herb who arrived later denied knowledge of the substances. Mr Gyambiby said investigation indicated that on December 31, last year, Kamil delivered the bales or boxes of the suspected drugs in Gorman's house. Herb, who earlier visited Gorman, assisted him and Kamil to off load the boxes containing the drugs upstairs. Mr Gyambiby said examination by the Ghana Standard Board has revealed that the whitish substances were cocaine.

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