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01.06.2004 General News

500 million-cedi busts for murdered Judges

500 million-cedi busts for murdered Judges
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Accra, June 1, GNA - Mr Justice George Kingsley Acquah, Chief Justice on Tuesday underscored the need to immortalize the souls of patriotic citizens, who sacrificed their precious lives during the struggle for the entrenchment of the Rule of Law in this country. To this end, he said, public-spirited individuals should make generous contributions towards the erection of befitting monuments in memory of the souls of all faithful, dedicated, patriotic and gallant heroes of the nation. Mr Justice Acquah made the call at the launch of sponsorship for the manufacture and erection of busts in memory of the three High Court Judges, who were murdered in cold blood in the early hours of June 30, 1982. On that fateful day, the Judges together with an Army Officer were abducted from their homes and cruelly murdered at the Bundase Military Range. The three were Mr Justice Fred Poku Sarkodee; Mr Justice Kwadwo Agyei-Agyepong and Mrs Justice Cecilia Koranteng-Addow. Over the years, the Ghana Bar Association (GBA) had single-handedly shouldered the responsibility of memorialising the three Judges by organising annual remembrance activities, in the form of memorial lectures and church services.
This year, the Judicial Council saw it fit to immortalize the souls of the three eminent Judges by erecting their busts on the forecourt of the Supreme Court Building as a reminder of their supreme sacrifices to their dear nation.
Work on the estimated 500 million-cedi project is expected to be completed by June 28, this year when the busts would be unveiled to usher in activities lined up for the celebration of the 22nd anniversary of the death of the Judges, dubbed "Martyrs' Day".
Answering the nagging question as to why it had taken the Judiciary such a long time to honour and immortalize the souls of their three colleagues, Mr Justice Acquah quoted from the Bible, saying: "There is, therefore, time to mourn our loved ones and time to remember them and do them the honour that they deserve, that they may be immortalized."
He commended the GBA for the courageous manner in which it outspokenly handled the murder issue, which he said, led to the arrest, prosecution and the meting out of appropriate punishment to some of the perpetrators.
The Chief Justice warned members of the Bench not to "for fear of being victimised, coil into our shelves, and fail to honour our colleagues through whose blood, we now breathe an air of freedom, an air of judicial independence, security of tenure and greater respectability and honour.
"Our colleagues were tortured and persecuted for committing no offence. They died as martyrs of the Rule of Law. They fought a good fight, won the battle, and deserve to be crowned with honour."
Mr Justice Acquah, therefore, reminded members of both the Bar and Bench that they were duty bound to demonstrate to the entire world that "we share in their sufferings and death, and dedicate ourselves to continue the good and honest service they began with us".
He said by making generous contributions towards the project, members of the Judiciary would be bringing joy to the hearts of the respective families of their murdered colleagues, and thus, demonstrate to them that their loved ones did not die in vain and for nothing.
Papa Owusu Ankomah, Attorney-General (AG) and Minister of Justice, said it was sad to note that ever since the event occurred over a couple of decades, no Government had associated itself with it. He pointed out that no nation could develop and take its rightful place in the comity of nations without having the respect for the Rule of Law, and promoting its tenets.
The AG pledged an amount of 50 million cedis as the New Patriotic Party Government's contribution towards the project, and said it was, for the first time, associating itself with the event because of its belief in the Rule of Law.
Nana Pra Agyensaim VI, Member of the Council of State, who launched the sponsorship for funding the project, called for the revisiting of all transitional provisions of the Constitution and laws, with the view to expunging them, so as to put all the suspects on trial to serve as deterrent to others.
Nana Agyensaim said if the citizenry were not subjected to torture; brutality; ill treatment; killings including extra judicial executions, the nation would definitely move forward.
Mr Paul Adu-Gyamfi, President of the GBA, who also pledged 25 million cedis on behalf of the Association in support of the project, said the launch was a clear vindication of the entrenched stand or position taken by members of the GBA to promote the Rule of Law in the country.
Mr Appiah Menka, Legal Practitioner and an Industrialist, said everything possible should be done to strengthen the Judiciary so that the confidence reposed in them could help woo investors into the country.
Professor Kodzo Paaku Kludze, Supreme Court Judge, who chaired the function, noted with satisfaction that the Judges died for the simple reason that they remained faithful to their Judicial Oath.
Prof Kludze said that the erection of their busts was perhaps the least that the living could do to honour "our colleagues who have paid the supreme price for their service to this country, and for bravely in upholding the Rule of Law".
While noting that even though the murder of the Judges was doubtlessly motivated by the desire of the perpetrators to intimidate the Judiciary, and thus undermine the Rule of Law, the Supreme Court Judge urged members of the Judiciary to show by their courage and determination, that intimidation and the threat to "our lives will not deter us as Judges from protecting the rights of the citizens of this nation".
More than 130 million cedis in pledges and contributions was realised at the function. 1 June 04

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