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General News | Jun 23, 2004

Soldier before NRC on human rights abuse including executions

GNA

Accra, June 23, GNA - Sergeant Anthony Charles Apoera of the Second Infantry Battalion of the Ghana Army based in Takoradi, was on Wednesday at the National Reconciliation Commission (NRC) to answer allegations of human rights abuses, including executions in 1983 made against him. Sergeant Apoera, alias Tarkwa Killer, who was subpoenaed by the Commission, had been alleged to have terrorised, brutalised and killed a number of people and dumped their bodies into an abandoned mine pit called Fanti Mines, near Tarkwa.

Counsel for Sergeant Apoera, Lawyer Joseph O. Amui cross-examined Witnesses, Mr James Cudjoe alias Abotukura and Mr Osmanu Sulemanu, Drivers of the vehicles Sergeant Apoera and other soldiers used for operations.

The Commission, however, deferred the evidence of Sergeant Apeora to July 7 because the Third Witness, Kweku Sey was bereaved and would be available by that date.

Mr E. Allotei Mingle, Head of Legal Affairs of the Commission, led Mr Cudjoe, who now lives at Tarkwa Borbobu, in his evidence.

Mr Cudjoe, who said he was then a Security Driver at the State Gold Mining Corporation at Tarkwa, told the Commission that the General Mines Manager, Mr Twum Antwi released his vehicle to a platoon of soldiers on operational duties at Tarkwa and asked him to work with them. Witness said Sgt Apoera's group, which was led by one Sheriff included one Osmanu, Adama, Sgt Ahialleh, Nyantakyi, Alamanyo, Willie Brown and others.

Mr Cudjoe said one Saturday, Sgt Apoera and Osamanu bundled one Issahaku into his Land Rover and took him to the abandoned mines. He said a scuffle ensued when Issahaku refused to obey the orders of Sgt. Apoera to get down and come together with Osmanu to the shaft. Osmanu after hitting Issahaku with his gun issued a code and Apoera rushed to the scene and hit Issahaku's forehead with the butt of his gun.

The Sergeant then dragged Issahaku to the pit, shot him and threw the body into the pit.

Mr Cudjoe said on another occasion Sergeant Apoera arrested a man, called Borhor, who posed as an Army Lieutenant at the Tarkwa main station.

He said when Borhor could not produce an ID card to prove that he was a Lieutenant, Sergeant Apoera ordered him to get on their vehicle. After two weeks' detention in Police cells, the soldiers, Sergeants Apoera, Ahialleh and Adongo informed him that they were "ready" for Borhor.

He said instead of going to the Police station, they made him to drive them to the Tarkwa Cemetery and after staying there for some time they left and picked Borhor from the Police cells to the Fanti Mines. Borhor realising that his death was imminent jumped from the vehicle in an attempt to escape but fell by the roadside and Sgt Ahialleh fired shots at him.

Mr Cudjoe said they left the body there and went for it next morning and took it to the mortuary.

During cross-examination Witness admitted that civilians reported and made allegations about others.

He, however, stated that he did not hear of any allegations of stealing and the possession of vanishing mystical powers against Issahaku, which Lawyer Amui suggested and stated that Sgt Apoera shot Issahaku.

When it got to the turn of Mr Sulemanu, he said he was the "main man of Sergeant Apoera," adding that, he worked with the Tarkwa Goldfields as a Driver, and drove the operational vehicle for the soldiers. He said one day in 1983, while returning from an operation, three soldiers, Lamenyo, Owusu and Sergeant Apoera arrested a lady during curfew hours at the Tarkwa Railway Station.

Mr Sulemanu said the Lady, who was about to get out of the station, was too frightened that she wet herself at the sight of the soldiers. The soldiers bundled her into the vehicle and drove her to their residence, at the bungalows of the Mines, which they had named 'Barracks'.

Witness said he suspected that she was raped after the three soldiers had kept her in a room for about 45 minutes.

After taking the motionless woman, who was also breathing irregularly, briefly to the Police Station, they deposited her in front of a mortuary and drove away but came back to pick and dumped her in the shaft at Fanti Mines.

They then went to the Railways Station to enquire of the identity of the woman but the fear stricken people were tight-lipped.

Mr Sulemanu recalled another incident when a Policeman reported a young man, who was alleged to be a thief to Lamenyo and Apoera. He said the Policeman, who wore a thick moustache took the soldiers to a place called Layout and pointed the house of the alleged thief to them.

However, when they knocked at the door, there was no reply and so they forced it open only to find the young man dead.

Mr Sulemanu said there were signs that he had died out of burns from an electric heater and found a knife stuck in his anus.

The soldiers took the body and dumped it in the Fanti Mines. The Chairman of the Commission, Mr Justice Kweku Etru Amua-Sekyi, thanked the two Witnesses and said their evidence was very useful to the Commission

Justice Amua-Sekyi said the remains of two men; three women and a boy of about 12 years old had been recovered from the Fanti Mines and appealed to the public to help in their identification. Witness apologises to another Witness at NRC Accra, June 23, GNA - There was drama at the National Reconciliation Commission on Wednesday when after giving his evidence Mr Thomas Benefo, a Witness, hopped from the Witness Seat to the Witness Gallery to apologise to Mr John Kwame Owusu, another Witness.

People, who had assembled at the Old Parliament House, including the Commissioners, Witnesses, Counsels, Journalists and observers in the public gallery could not help laughing when Mr Benefo hopped to Mr Owusu, who was also laughing, to shake hands with him.

Mr Benefo admitted during his evidence that he slapped Mr Owusu, a Former Assistant Commissioner of Police in 1983, when he appeared before the National Investigation Committee (NIC).

He said he was directed by Professor Kofi Awoonor, then a Panel member of the NIC, to "put the fear of God" in Mr Owusu because he was too proud; so he slapped Mr Owusu and made him to hop around as a means of warming him up.

Mr Benefo said he was very sorry for what he did to Mr Owusu and asked all those he had beaten or tortured in any form to forgive him. Mr Benefo had been billed to cross-examine Mr Owusu but rather used the occasion to apologise to him.

Mr Kofi Djin, former Secretary for the Interior, denied his personal involvement in the dismissal of Mr Owusu from the Police Service in 1983.

Mr Djin, who was cross-examining Mr Owusu, said it was the Provisional National Defence Council Government that had dismissed him. However, Mr Owusu maintained that it was Mr Djin, who dismissed him.

Mr Djin decided to end the cross-examination when Mr Owusu said he had sent the case to the Commission of Human on Human Rights and Administrative Justice and was sure that he would be paid his entitlements.

Mr Owusu said he had come to the Commission to tell the world what happened to him. 23 June 04

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