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16.07.2004 Crime & Punishment

Appeals Court overturns death sentence and acquits murder convict

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Accra, July 16, GNA - The Court of Appeal, on Friday unanimously acquitted and discharged a Takoradi businessman, Mr Alex Kobina Akomsi, who was sentenced to death last year with two others by an Accra Fast Track High Court for murdering a businesswoman.

The Court of Appeal further set aside the decision of the Fast Track High Court that sentenced Mr. Akomsi with the two others on charges of conspiracy and murder.

On August 30, last year a seven-member jury found Mr Akomsi, Ebenezer Mark Owusu and John Kwesi Williams guilty of murdering and severing the genitals of Ewurasi Segbefia at Ntranoa, near Elmina, in the Central Region on January 25, 2000.

The Court of Appeal in its ruling upheld all the four grounds of appeal and noted that the High Court should have withdrawn the charges levelled against Mr Akomsi after the prosecution had closed its case. It said the trial judge should have considered the appellant's defence, instead of relying on the confession statement of the other convicts.

The court stated further that the trial judge should have also dealt with the convicts' evidence individually and not collectively. Members of the panel were Mr Justice J.B. Akamba (presiding), Mr Justice S.K Asiamah and Mr Justice S.K Piesare.

In an appeal against the High Court's decision, Mr Okaija Adamafio, Counsel for the appellant, noted that the verdict of the jury was unreasonable and could not be supported, having regard to the evidence before the court.

He noted that the judge erred in law when he failed to withdraw the case against the appellant at the close of prosecution's case. According to Counsel, the judge also misdirected himself and the jury by failing to consider the case against each of the convicts separately, thereby prejudicing the defence of the appellant.

He argued that the defence of the Appellant was not adequately considered.

On August 30, last year, a seven-member jury returned a verdict of guilty on Mr. Akomsi despite the trial court's view that at the close of the Prosecution's case, it had not adduced enough evidence to incriminate Mr Akomsi.

The court further observed that Mr Akomsi had denied the charges and had been consistent throughout the trial, while Williams was also consistent in his confession that he participated in the murder. In the case of Owusu, he made contradictory statements because he earlier stated that the deceased was killed by her business partners and later changed his story to say that he conspired with others to kill her.

According to the Court, Mr. Akomsi's wife also collaborated her husband's evidence.

Mr Akomsi had told the court that on that fateful day, he (Akomsi) accompanied his wife to town to shop. They came home together and had dinner.

Mr Akomsi's wife said shortly after the dinner, he joined her in the bedroom.

The seven-member jury, however, returned a verdict of guilty and the court convicted him and two others to death by hanging.

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