Blows At Afoko Trial
The timely intervention of journalists and lawyers at the 24th February Court yesterday averted a near bloodbath between the families of the late Adams Mahama, Upper East Regional chairman of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and Gregory Afoko, one of the two persons being tried over the murder of the NPP man.
Stones and other offensive weapons flew from all corners as people fell and wobbled in an attempt to flee the troubled spot.
A lady believed to be the daughter of the deceased, in the process of the agitation, collapsed. She was revived after several sachets of water were poured on her and subsequently rushed to the hospital.
Interestingly, there were no police officers at court when the families hurled insults and near fisticuffs at each other.
'Gregory Afoko is a killer; family of killers…Afoko will go to jail…foolish people,' a visibly miffed member of the Adams family yelled.
She further retorted, 'You killed my brother, you will never prosper…'
The incident occurred shortly after an Accra High Court, presided over by Justice K. A. Okwabi, had dismissed a bail application filed by lawyers of Gregory Afoko, brother of NPP national chairman, Paul Afoko.
The judge said the charges preferred against the accused person were well laid.
He said the facts, as presented by the prosecution, connects Gregory to the alleged murder of Mr Adams Mahama.
Justice Okwabi, quoting Article 296 (ii) of the 1992 Constitution, further stated that there had not been any undue delay in respect of the trial.
He said he was unable to grant the bail, although the high court has power to do so.
In view of the fact that Gregory was arraigned before court after 48 hours of arrest, Justice Okwabi cautioned the state to be wary of such infractions on the fundamental human rights of accused persons.
Gregory and Issah Musah are before the Accra Central Magistrate Court for allegedly intentionally and unlawfully causing the death of Adams on May 20, 2015 at Bolgatanga in the Upper East Region.
According to the police, Musah, who is a member of the NPP, on 19th May, 2015 solicited and procured the deadly acid which he gave to other two suspects who in turn poured the substance on Adams, leading to his death.
Asabke Alangdi, the third accused, has been on the run together with his wife, leaving behind their one-and-a-half-year-old baby.
Gregory is facing charges of conspiracy and murder.
The pleas of the two have not been taken.
Musah, a driver who is being tried for abetment of crime, was recently admitted to bail in the sum of GH¢20,000 with four sureties – a move the bereaved family has described as unfortunate.
Earlier at the high court, Ekow Ampah Korsah, lead counsel for 53-year-old Afoko, said the police had denied him access to his client who had been in the East Legon police cells since May 2015 when he was arrested.
Ampah Korsah stated that his client ought to be granted bail because he has no means to interfere with the investigations of the police or abscond when bailed.
Matthew Amponsah, a chief state attorney, opposing the bail, said forensic report from the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) had disclosed that the burn on the base of the trousers of Gregory was consistent with acid burns.
He said the report confirms the position of the prosecution as contained in their affidavit in opposition that 'the clothing [of Gregory] was laced with sulphuric acid,' the very substance that killed Mr Adams Mahama.
The prosecution, in a 28-paragraph affidavit, further disclosed that the final report on the wound on Gregory's leg was yet to be released.
In the view of the chief state attorney, Gregory was not picked at random, adding that there was enough evidence against the accused.
He explained that there was no issue of mistaken identity, particularly when the deceased mentioned the names of those who poured the acid on him.
Mr Amponsah said that the pieces of evidence established the nexus between Gregory and the other persons in the case.
Scene from the court yesterday
Musah Wants More
However, the magistrate court, presided over by Worlanyo Kotoku, could not once again hear an intended application expected to have been filed by Alfred Adjei Mensah, lawyer for Musah.
This was because Mr Ampah Korsah, who was at the high court fighting for the freedom of his client, was not at the lower court for the application to be moved; likewise the prosecution.
Mr Mensah said his client had been reporting to the police as ordered by the court.
He indicated his intention to ask for a review of the aspect of the bail condition that requires Musah to report to the police four times a week.
The trial magistrate, however, stated that if the prosecution and the lawyers for Gregory were not in court on the next adjourned date, he would fix a date to consider the application for the review of the bail application.
The case has been adjourned until August 21, 2015.
By Jeffrey De-Graft Johnson