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21.04.2004 General News

Witness was brutalised for forming movement

By GNA

Accra, April 21, GNA - Mr Augustine Leo Gyamprah, Headmaster of Sefwi Bekwai Catholic Junior Secondary School, on Monday told the National Reconciliation Commission (NRC) that soldiers brutalised him for forming a group he called the Holy War Movement in 1982. Then teaching at Bibiani Catholic Middle School and Chairman of the local Sefwi Chiraa People's Defence Committee (PDC), Mr Gyamprah said he was arrested soon after he formed the Movement in Bibiani. He said the Movement had the same objectives as the PDC - to educate people in the rural areas about the revolution and mobilise them to undertake development projects.

Mr Gyamprah said he was on his way to school when soldiers from the Apremdo Barracks and the Sekondi Naval Base bundled him into a military vehicle.

He said he found that the Executives of the Movement were already in the vehicle adding that the Chairman of the local PDC was with the soldiers.

Witness said he and his Executives were beaten with sticks and belts as well the butts of guns.

He said the soldiers asked them to fight one another and they beat them severely if they did not throw heavy punches at their "opponents". They were stripped to their pants and brought into the public in the full glare of school children, even though no charges were preferred against them.

He said he was wrongly accused of countering the local PDC. He said on hindsight he had discovered that it was not necessary for him to have formed the group, adding that he formed it out of his exuberance for the revolution

Professor Henrietta Mensa-Bonsu, a Member of the Commission, advised the Witness, to use his position as an opinion leader to preserve the Constitution.

Another Witness, Ex-Sergeant Kingsley Ofosu, formerly of the Military Intelligence said he fled to La Cote D'Ivoire after the December 31, 1981 coup.

He said he heard that two of his juniors, Sergeant Seidu Azaah and Sergeant Awudu had been killed and upon advice from friends he fled to save his life.

Witness said he was in exile for more than 16 years and for the fear for his life, he could not come back home to attend the funeral of his wife, who died in a motor accident while she was going to visit him. Ex-Sgt Ofosu said he had become diabetic because he ate too many sweets to enable him to keep awake while he worked for a security company in La Cote d'Ivoire.

He asked the Commission to recommend that he should be given compensation to educate his children, who, he said, suffered because of his long period in exile.

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