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06.08.2004 General News

Extortion in Kosovo: Deliberations of Police Council Not for Public Consumption

By Chronicle
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As a group of aggrieved police personnel who were on UN peacekeeping duty in Kosovo continue to demand the report of a probe into the alleged 'blackmail and extortion' saga, the Police Administration says deliberations of the Police Council are confidential and not for public consumption.

In a release signed for the Police Public Relations Director, in reaction to The Chronicle's July 5, 2004 publication on the allegations of extortion of money from police officers who were on a UN Peacekeeping Mission in Kosovo, Inspector A.K. Arthur said the Police Council instituted an investigation into the allegation and that the outcome had not been made available to the Police Administration.

"The Police Administration cannot comment on an investigation that was ordered by the Police Council," said the release.

Handing a copy of the release to The Chronicle yesterday, Inspector Arthur said the aggrieved officers could have petitioned the Police Council over the matter if they had any grievances.

In January 2003, articles regarding the extortion of money by proxy from the Ghanaian Police Contingent on peacekeeping mission in Kosovo were published on the Ghanaweb.

The allegation, which was denied by the police administration, did not only attack the personal integrity of the IGP, the then Interior Minister and others, but also the Ghana Police Service and the Government as a whole.

The Police Council, under the chairmanship of, Mr. B. J. da Rocha, set up a committee to investigate the matter.

Besides the Police Council's committee, information gathered by The Chronicle indicated that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs also conducted its own investigation, which identified the police personnel who were accused of publishing the article on the Ghanaweb.

"The investigations by The Ministry of Foreign Affairs have identified the personnel mentioned overleaf as being responsible for the damaging report on the Ghana Website," according to Mr. J Boakye-Appiah, Commissioner of Police in charge of welfare.

Disciplinary action, by way of Service Enquiry, was to be instituted in April 2003, into their conduct to serve as a deterrent to others.

The Chronicle further gathered that the then Acting Minister of the Interior, Dr. Kwame Addo Kufuor also directed that yet another investigation be conducted into the matter.

But despite a UN report which exonerated the four officers accused of posting the articles on the website, the paper's sources said some of them were still being punished.

The sources accused Mr. Boakye-Appiah of thwarting efforts to investigate the extortion saga.

But Mr. Boakye-Appiah denied this in a previous Chronicle publication, saying that he was not around when the publications came up.

He argued that the Police Council's report would have shown whether he had a role to play or not.

Some police personnel described the punishment being meted out to some of the aggrieved personnel as ridiculous and unfortunate, because according to them culprits were normally committed to trials only after investigations had been conducted and enough evidence had been gathered.

Threats of dismissals and victimization, they said, were never the solution to the problem, adding that reward and punishment in the service must be used judicially in order to achieve their desired objectives.

The Police Public Relations Director, DSP David Eklu told The Chronicle yesterday that there had been a significant improvement in the Police Service under the present administration, an example being that those whose promotions were delayed had been promoted.

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