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General News | Apr 22, 2004

How Chris Asher Conned The NRC

GNA

Ghana's longest servicing national security capo, Captain Kojo Tsikata, may not have been far from right after all in his description of 67-year-old Chris Asher (Jnr) as an “international conman” during his maiden appearance at the National Reconciliation Commission (NRC), evidence emerging suggests.

Information available to Gye Nyame Concord indicates that indeed, Mr Asher, the controversial fugitive from justice, misled the NRC into believing that he had handwritten statements and confessions from some of the principal characters involved in the June 30, 1982 murder of the three High Court judges and a retired Army officer.

Gye Nyame Concord has gathered that one of the cardinal reasons for the extension of immunity to Asher during his appearance before the NRC was because he assured the NRC that he had handwritten statements from lance Corporal Samuel Amedeka and Ransford Johnny Tekpor, two of the architects of the gruesome murders. And that he was given those original documents during his time with them in prison.

As it turned out, the NRC has to-date not laid its eyes on any such letter relevant to its work for which it gave Asher immunity, raising suspicion among officials close to the reconciliation body that Asher conned them with his claim in order to get a free ride into town after being on the run from Ghana for years.

Asher simply had no such document when he appeared before the NRC. Neither could he assist the NRC with such documents in private, sources at the NRC have told this paper. Instead, what Asher did was to repeat what amounted to hear-say evidence most of it already in the public domain, sparking a debate over the use of hear-say in the NRC have told newsmen.

Instead, what Asher did was to repeat what amounted to hear-say evidence most of it already in the public domain, sparking a debate over the sue of hear-say in the NRC process. Sources say Asher's evidence left the NRC in a fix as to what to do with it and what decision to take in the face of Capt. Tsikata's insistence that he wanted to cross-examine the one-time chief of Osoroase in the eastern region.

For the record, Capt. Tsikata completed “the procedure that would allow the Commission to recall” Asher on February 26, 2004, noted Mr Kyeretwie Opoku, counsel for Tsikata in a rejoinder sent to the Gye Nyame Concord some weeks ago.

To add to the NRC's woes, the fugitive from justice also violated the terms of his immunity and stirred a public relations nightmare for the NRC and Ghana's security agencies with his refusal to leave the country within the expiration period of his immunity. Asher, a lawyer and a convicted insurance fraudster, was serving out a 10-year sentence when he escaped from prison on January 17, 1984 and fled to London, UK. He is also alleged to have murdered one Emmanuel Ofori Atta, whose families have insisted on his arrest and prosecution over that case. Asher has denied the allegation.

He has also had brushes with the law in the US and was, as late as March 2002, under investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI) of alleged violations of he federal criminal code in the US national capital, District of Columbia. Asher was late last month also ordered out of Ghana following his arrival and stay in the country for days without requisite documents guaranteeing him immunity. He returned without the authority or knowledge of the NRC, which granted him immunity to return on his first trip to Accra.

In his evidence, Asher insisted that both former President Jerry John Rawlings and Captain Tsikata masterminded the murder of the judges and the army officer. Both men have denied any involvement in the murders, with Tsikata insisting during his appearance before the NRC that he neither participated “in any manner whatsoever, in these crimes” and that he had lived for more than 20 years “with the pain of being falsely accused by the Special Investigation Board (SIB) of being the mastermind of the hideous crimes committed by Amartey Kwei and others on the night of 30th June 1982.”

Asher subsequently stirred debate following the revelation that apart from being a fugitive from justice following his jail break from the Nsawam Medium Security Prisons, he was a one-time buddy of former President Rawlings, whom he used to hang out with during the early days of the Rawlings-led AFRC and PNDC regimes.

His celebrated brother and journalist, Chris Asher (Snr.) is on record to have said that his younger sibling used to complain over his coverage of the Rawlings-led PNDC administration.

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