Two Ghanaians freed of piracy charges
Accra, May 12, GNA - The State on Tuesday filed a nolle prosequi on notice at the Adjabeng District Magistrate Court to drop all charges brought against the two Ghanaians implicated in the piracy case involving some eight Nigerians.
The two, Joel Yaw Atta and George Opata Okrah, were cited as the local representatives of the alleged pirates.
State prosecutors told the court presided over by Ms Efua Sackey that investigations have revealed that the Ghanaians were not guilty of the charges levelled against them.
The judge, therefore, discharged and acquitted the accused persons.
There are indications however that the other eight Nigerian suspects would be tried in Ghana.
Initially, the State charged the eight persons for piracy but with the arrest of the two Ghanaians the number of the suspected pirates had increased to 10. Two others are still at large.
The State has now added an additional charge of conspiracy to commit crime to the earlier charge of piracy.
At a previous sitting, Police Chief Inspector Patrick Hanson told the court that the complainant is the Chief Executive Officer of Maxweir Limited, the company operating MT Mariam, whilst the accused persons included a freight forwarder, sailor and unemployed men from Ghana and Nigeria.
He said on January 17, the vessel MT Mariam, loaded with 1,500 metric tons of low petroleum fuel oil worth 217, 912 million dollars, was travelling from Lagos, Nigeria, to Lome, Togo, when the accused persons launched their attack.
The prosecution said the accused persons were wielding three AK 47 rifles, one pump action gun and a K2 rifle when they attacked the nine member crew on board.
He said siphoning the oil into another ship took five hours, and that, all this while, the crew members were held hostage and subjected to various degrees of inhuman treatment.
'The inhuman treatment included assault with butts of the weapon, restricting their movement, and preventing them from communicating with each other,' he added.
He said they forced the captured Captain to pilot the vessel to a convenient position to enable them to steal the cargo unto another vessel marked M.T INVICTUS, where two of the alleged pirates joined the vessel with the stolen oil and sped off.
Chief Inspector Hanson said the complainant, with a marine vessel tracking device, located the vessel heading towards Ghana's territorial waters.
He said the leader of the group managed to get the complainant on phone and told him that he was going to use the vessel for another operation in Liberia.
'Before leaving, he instructed the rest of the pirates to keep watch over the crew till they return to pick them,' he said.
The prosecution said it was whilst waiting that the personnel of the Ghana Navy came to their rescue after a distress call had been made and the accused persons arrested.
The weapons were seized and retained for evidential purposes.
He said the MT INVICTUS is currently being held at the Tema Harbour.
The accused persons are Captain Mike, at large Abaiyi, at large, Molih Williams, Molih Klinsman, Peggy Aki, Ebiyaibo Amos, David Jacobs, Apetimiyi Oyinie, Pinano Saniyo and Picolo John.