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08.07.2004 General News

13 prisoners ask NRC for Presidential pardon

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Accra, July 8, GNA- Thirteen persons serving various jail terms at the Nsawam Medium Security Prisons, on Friday prayed the National Reconciliation Commission (NRC) to recommend to the President, to grant them pardon.

Their sentences range from 21 years to 53, to life imprisonment for offences of stealing, robbery and murder.

The persons are: Mr Ali Abdul Karim, Francis Addo alias Kojo Barnor, Emmanuel Odartey Mills, Nathaniel Kwasi Nukorpe, George Odei Cudjoe, Simon Kofi Adzokatse, and Seth Koranteng.

The others are Thomas Benny Dylan, George Sarpei, Lawrence Kwaku Norshie, Seth Ayisi, Kojo Fayede and George Acheampong.

The first Witness, Mr Karim, said a Regional Tribunal sentenced him to death for robbery in 1989, but his sentence was commuted to life imprisonment in 1997, five years later after an appeal in 1992. He said he did not commit the crime, he was not given a fair trial and the sentence imposed on him was too harsh.

Mr Karim said he initially received a sentence of 25 years for dishonestly receiving an item, but when the charge for the same act was changed to robbery, he was sentenced to death.

He explained that the sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment, but the previous 25 years sentenced was not quashed.

Mr Addo who said he was charged for stealing, and sentenced by a National Tribunal to 21 -and- half years in 1990, appealed to the President for pardon.

He said he would be 14 years in prison by September 14 this year, and was expected to be released on January 7, 2005.

Mr Mills, another Witness, was sentenced to 32 years imprisonment in 1988, for robbing and stealing and is expected to be released on November 22, 2010.

Witness who said he was given 30 days, to appeal but fell sick, during the period, told the Commission that he was initially placed in the condemned cells when he was being tried.

He said fellow inmates who had similar offences, had lower sentences or granted remission.

Professor Henrietta Mensa-Bonsu, a Member of the Commission, and a Criminologist, explained that a court would treat a first offender more leniently than a second offender.

She said any discrimination Mr Mills suffered was because of the nature of his offences.

Witness admitted that he escaped arrest after committing the robbery and was later arrested on another count of stealing.

He said he was now a reformed person and pleaded for pardon. Mr Nukorkope, sentenced by a Ho Public Tribunal in 1991, for robbery, is expected to be released on September 17 this year.

He said he did not commit the crime, and his arrest was marked with violence.

Mr Nukorkope who described himself as a reformed person and has learned draughtsmanship in prison, pleaded with the Prison authorities, to issue him with a certificate on the trade.

He also requested the Commission to recommend a resettlement package for him.

When it got to the turn of Mr Cudjoe, he said his death sentence in 1984, had been commuted to Pleasure of the President, and appealed for an amnesty, since some of his colleagues had enjoyed amnesty. During questioning, Witness indicated that he was once a psychiatric patient. He filed an appeal for amnesty that could be granted after the prison authorities had sent a monitoring report on him.

Commission Chairman, Mr Justice Kweku Etru Amua-Sekyi, said the Commission would obtain a medical report and if it was favourable, the Commission might be able to help the Witness.

Witnesses Mr Adzokatse and Mr Koranteng, sentenced 25 years each for robbery in 1990, and expected to be released on 13 April 2007, prayed the Commission to recommend Presidential pardon for them.

Mr Dylan, another Witness stated that he was innocent of the charge of murder for which he was sentenced to death in 1996.

He said the sentence was commuted to a life term on 21st July 2003. Mr Dylan said a lawyer he engaged to defend him, was not allowed to do so during the trial.

He said the trial judge who explained that his court had no jurisdiction over the case denied his appeal. Witness said he was afraid to appeal a second time because other prisoners in similar circumstances were executed when they lost their appeals.

Mr Dylan said he was beaten severely during his arrest and was brought to the Prison with his two legs entirely broken. More

Witness Mr Sarpei said he was convicted for three counts of stealing, on different occasions, but was jailed for 35 years and expected to be released on November 2004.

He told the Commission that he was now a reformed person and prayed for Presidential pardon.

Mr Norshie another witness said he was convicted for a murder charge in 1998 but was on remand for seven years, since 1991. He said he had suffered a stroke during the 13 years in prison, and petitioned the Commission to recommend to the Attorney General to expedite action on a monitoring report that would facilitate his amnesty.

Witness Mr Ayisi said a Public Tribunal convicted him 30 years, for robbery on May 11 1984 and has served 21 years and two months. He said at the time of his conviction there was no right of appeal. He said he had had become sick in prison.

Mr Ayisi prayed the Commission to recommend to the President to release him earlier before his designated jail term.

Another Witness, Mr Fayede said he was sentenced by a Tribunal to 37 years and has already served 20 years and is expected to be released in 2009.

He prayed the Commission to recommend a Presidential pardon for him.

Mr George Acheampong, who had been in prison for the past 14 years appealed to the Commission for a reduction in his 53-year jail sentence to enable him continue with his boxing career.

He said he was charged with conspiracy to steal, stealing and possession of firearms.

He admitted resisting arrest and injuring one of the policemen who arrested him.

Mr Acheampong denied possessing firearms explaining that the Police preferred the charge against him for a higher sentence, because he did not die when they shot at him.

He said his appeal against the sentence was before the Court of Appeal and expressed the hope that the outcome would be favourable. Mr Acheampong who described himself as a middleweight boxer said he was 23 years when he went into jail.

He pledged to win laurels for Ghana as a boxer, if he was released.

The Chairman welcomed the prisoners welcomed with the assurance that they had a right to petition.

"We hope you'll come out sooner than later", he said. 09 July 2004

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