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19.04.2004 General News

Ex Captain apologises for atrocities

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Accra, April 19, GNA - The National Reconciliation Commission (NRC) on Monday witnessed an apology, described as one of most heartfelt in the Commission's hearing, from an alleged perpetrator to a victim when it resumed its sitting in Accra.

In a rare penitent mood, Ex Captain Patrick Donkor, formerly of the Airborne Force and member of the then People's Tribunal walked to Opanin Isidore Kwame Gyamfi and apologized to him for any wrong he might have done to him, shook hands and topped it with a big hug amidst tears.

"I am really sorry for what I did during the June 4. I want to apologise to Mr Gyamfi for any unfortunate thing I did. I don't recall the case, but I'm not here to dispute it with Mr Gyamfi. I'm really sorry for this thing. Please forgive me."

Ex Captain Donkor blamed any hurtful actions he might have committed during the heat of the 1979 revolution to youthful escapades and inexperience and also apologized to the family of the late Alhaji Bawa Ayamga, a former Bolgatanga based contractor for the atrocities he suffered.

Ex Capt Donkor told the late Alhaji Ayamga's son, Mr Bukari Bawa Bukari Ayamga: "I was part of the tribunal that jailed your father to Navrongo Prisons. Please do forgive me".

The ex soldier also apologized to one Mr John Opoku, who he said also suffered from his hands, and continued shedding remorseful tears even as he sat in the respondents' seat.

The Most Reverend Charles Gabriel Palmer-Buckle, Member of the Commission thanked Ex Capt Donkor on behalf of Ghanaians for his remorse.

Most Rev Palmer Buckled said: "I want to thank you sincerely on behalf of Ghanaians.... I sure you don't know the depth of what you have done but it's a great sacrifice."

Supporting his appreciation with Biblical inferences, the Catholic cleric said God himself did not take delight in sacrifices of sheep and goats but a contrite heart.

The Witness, Opanin Gyamfi to whom Ex Capt Donkor rendered the apology told the Commission that he used to be a welder at Bolgatanga in 1979 and had his workshop at the Bolgatanga Lorry Park.

He said soldiers in the company of ex-Capt. Donkor went about removing new tyres from under vehicles.

He said on reaching his garage, ex Capt. Donkor and his men accused him of taking new tyres on his Peugeot car against his protestations that the tyres were the old ones from a VW car that had the same rim with a Peugeot car.

Opanin Gyamfi said Capt Donkor slapped him, and continued slapping him with even though he produced the papers on the Peugeot car, which he demanded.

He said Ex Capt Donkor hit his ribs with a hammer when he demanded the roadworthiness certificate, which he had already given him as part of the documents on the car.

Witness said Ex Capt Donkor threatened killing him and only stopped molesting him when his bodyguard told him the road worthiness certificate, which he was demanding was really part of the documents Opanin Gyamfi had submitted.

Opanin Gyamfi said he Ex Capt Donkor marched him to Alhaji Ayamga's shop, ordered the removal of tyres under Alhaji Ayamga's car and further took him round and loaded his car with tyres he was removing under vehicles, but his car developed a fault along the way at a point called Plaza.

Witness said the ex-captain ordered him to push the car back to the station, but was later released on the intervention of one Capt. Pattingtion, then in charge of the Bolgatanga Barracks.

Witness also told the Commission that his garage was set ablaze in the wake of a fight between the military and civilians in 1980.

Opanin Gyamfi said he lost his garage from the fire, and although some Ivorians whose cars were burned were given compensation he was left out. He said some affected people were given compensation in 1995, but he whose name was third on the list when they were registered for their losses was left out on the grounds that his name was not on the list. He prayed the Commission to recommend an appropriate compensation for him.

Another witness, Squadron Leader Kwasi Dargbey, former Chairman of the People's Court, at the instance of the Commission, apologized to Madam Veronica Mensah, who said the Squadron Leader Dargbey had ordered her unlawful arrest, beating and detention at the Border Guards Headquarters.

His apology initially was brief and Professor Henrietta Mensa-Bonsu exclaimed, "Oh is it over?" before the Squadron Leader went back and apologised again to the Witness.

Madam Mensah said her arrest was a result of brawls between her children and the children of her tenants.

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