24.10.2004 General News

NRC Report On “The Treason Trial Of 1986

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Accra, Oct. 24, Gye Nyame Concord -- YOUR authoritative and reliable GYE NYAME CONCORD has procured a copy of the recently completed final NRC report on human rights and publishes unedited below the Executive Summary on the infamous treason trial of Mawuli Dra Goka, Kyeremeh Djan, among others. Read on.

IN THE EARLY HOURS of 30th October, 1985, a team of Police Officers led by Chief Superintendent Victor Agbenatoe went to the home of Evelyn Djan at Tema. They conducted a search and found under a bed, a sack which they said contained guns and ammunition. They arrested Evelyn, her nephew Atta Boakye, her brother Kyereme Djan and his friend Mawuli Dra Goka. On 5th March, 1986 Mawuli Dra Goka, Kyereme Djan and thirteen others were charged with conspiring to overthrow the government of Ghana. They pleaded “Not Guilty” to the charges. At the trial the prosecution sought to tender in evidence confession statements alleged to have been made by the accused persons. When the defence objected to the statements going in, George Agyekum, Chairman of the Public Tribunal decided to admit them. At the end of the trial, he convicted all but one of the accused persons. He sentenced Mawuli Dra Goka, Kyereme Djan, Yaw Brefo Berko, Samuel Boamah Panyin, Ahmed Braimah Kankani, WO II Samuel Charles Aforo and Pte Charles Koomson to death. The sentences were carried on 21st June, 1986 and the bodies buried in two unmarked graves. The confession statements were taken by Detective Inspector James Kofi Atopley. When he produced the confession statements, objection was raised to their admission, on the ground that they were not voluntary, but were extracted under a series of tortures administered to them over a long period between their arrest and the making of the statements. The procedure to be followed when such objections are taken is for the adjudicating body to rule on the admissibility of each document there and then and to exclude it if it is found to be inadmissible: Evidence Decree, 1957 (NRCD 323) section 6(1)(2)11. Instead of complying with this legal requirement, Agyekum stated that he would allow the documents in and rule on their admissibility later. He said:

The Public Tribunal's Law enjoins us to look at rules of law in deciding whether the statement will be admitted or be rejected. In our opinion, even though prima facie the statement is alleged to be voluntary in the course of trial both the prosecution and defence could lead evidence to support their contention as to the voluntariness of the statement. The tribunal then in our evaluation of the case will take into consideration the sort of weight to be attached to such evidence. On our hearing the statement, hearing the accused version and circumstances under which it was taken together with the entire evidence before us we shall then be in a position to evaluate it in the consideration of the final judgment. This ruling will apply to all the other statements and we shall continue to record any such objections raised. The objection is therefore overruled. This was most irregular and prejudicial to the accused, as if the documents were inadmissible, they ought not to have been taken into account at the end of the case for the prosecution when considering whether the accused persons should be called upon to put up their defence. In the proper administration of justice, Agyekum ought to have taken evidence on the admissibility of each confession statement before admitting it in evidence. It was to turn the procedure upside down to admit the statement and then take evidence as to its admissibility at a later stage in the proceedings. At the close of the case for the prosecution, and with the confession statements in, the Tribunal had no difficulty in finding that a case had been made against the accused persons. They were called upon to open their defence. They gave evidence of the tortures and ill-treatment they had undergone and how they had made the statements under all kinds of crude, cruel and inhuman tortures and pressures.

In his evidence Goka said:

“ .....we were whisked off to the police headquarters and handed over to some policemen on duty. There, I was handcuffed and my leg were chained and was left behind the counter…After about fifteen minutes…Jack Beble…came near the counter…He then said how could an Ewe like me be plotting with an Akan by name Boakye Djan to overthrow an Ewe government. He beat me…At about 8 – 9 p.m. the same evening, Jack Beble returned with about eight men dressed in military uniform. I was called from my cell when the chains on my legs were removed and l was sent into a waiting Land Rover from there they drove to the other side of the building and brought back Kyereme Djan, 3rd accused….

… He drove further on the dirt road. We were ordered to go down from the Land Rover. Kyereme and I compiled. There the handcuffs were removed and we were both handcuffed behind our backs. We were then blindfolded and were told to run into the bush at this point. Kyereme Djan told MAWULI these chaps are out to kill us. I asked him if he could do anything about it. He said no, then I said let us give it to God. We started running. We were told to stop. We were then dragged and transferred to what seems to be the back of a vehicle. From this point, we couldn't see anything, since we had been blindfolded earlier on….after a while the vehicle came to stop. We heard some exchanges. Someone got down from the vehicle. Later came and banged the door and we continued the journey. We went on for about 40/50 Kilometers.

….We eventually got to a destination where we were told to get down from the truck. Kyereme and I were separated, I was told to stand after being sent somewhere then shots were fired all around me….I was sent into a room where I was instructed to sit on the floor and they started beating me with what appeared like a barb wire because I could feel it pricking me. The beating went on for about an hour then I felt Kyereme had been brought into the room because I heard his voice. I was told to remove my shirt so my handcuffs were opened. I removed my shirt and I sat down.

Later, I was told to open my mouth and something that tasted like meat, raw meat was put in my mouth. Prior to this Kyereme was shouting that his back was being cut.

…..After that, I was given something to drink and it tasted like and smelt like urine. I was kicked in the abdomen. My private part was burnt in the process. I lost control of myself and urinated. Kyereme and I were told to lick the urine which we did….

My private part was taken and tip of it was slashed to make it longer. Then a series questions were asked me. e.g. Are you not planning with Major Boakye Djan to overthrow the government of Ghana? … Whenever I gave them the answer which was no, I was subjected to further beating. I was told until I agree to these things, they will not stop beating me… a couple of hours later, I was sent into a waiting van and I reckon it was dawn because I could hear the cocks crowing. We were then driven to another unknown destination where I was forced to drink a glass of local gin, Akpeteshie and that they were preparing me for my death….We were dragged from the truck and sent into a hole then we were told to say our last prayers and I recited Psalm 23 aloud…We were then fired above our heads…..

We were…. later given some food to eat but we were unable to do so because we realize the gari give us had been mixed with sand….I was given certain guidelines. I was told I will be meeting their bosses in the evening. I didn't see them. I was still blindfolded….

Certain names were given to us some of the names are KOOMSON, AFORO, one DANJUM, one ANABA, ALANKO, ADONTEN and other names…is ATA- PANYIN so Kyereme and I was told to incorporate in our story a brief account of our backgrounds and how series of meeting were held with some of the names, monies given out, monies promised… . …I was then separated from Kyereme Djan and put in what appeared to be a tank with water in it. I was taken out later and I was given about three injections and I was dragged to another destination… There, I met about nine men seated. In the middle was the Deputy Director of BNI (Peter Nanfuri)… I was told to start my story and then I asked the Panel Members I would like to know why I have been brought before them. I was warned by the Deputy Director that if I wasted their time, I will go back to where I came from so I retold the story the way I was told when I was being tortured…I was escorted to a very dark cell. There, I sat on the floor because I could not lie down either on my back nor on my front.

…I lost track of the days. I complained I wanted to see a Doctor since I was in so much pain and my private part was stuck to my shorts…A couple of days later, whilst in the cell, I was called out and just as I stepped out of the cell, I heard footsteps from the side.

They turned me to face the wall; I was handcuffed behind my back. I was blindfolded and sent away to an unknown destination. There, my left shoulder was burnt with what seemed to be a hot and hard substance and I was told I had not performed well during interrogation. I was brought into company with a man whom they called KOOMSON.

There, I was instructed to say I had a meeting with him in Lome. I was subjected to further beating and sent back in to BNI.

Some days, I was called and sent upstairs where I met the 4th accused ATAA PANYIN. I was told to take him to my cells and advise him what will happen to him if he failed to cooperate…..At the entrance I took off my shorts and showed my private part to him and my back and he told me MAWULI why should I say something I have never done or known in my life? I made it clear to him that he could not withstand what I had been through so I told him the story I had recounted to the panel earlier and l was locked back in cell…I was picked up again and sent to an unknown destination. I had been blindfolded and handcuffed behind my back. There at the unknown destination, I was told to say my last prayers again. I was stripped naked and subjected to yet the series of torture. I was told to get ready with my story because soon, I will be called upon to put down what I had said and the torture into writing before an investigator. I was sent back to the BNI. There I cannot recollect the date but I was called and sent to one of the offices downstairs, where I met two gentlemen one was the investigator. He introduced himself to me. He said he was ATOPLEY….I asked him who the independent witness was. He introduced him to me….

….I asked Mr. Atopley if it would be possible to get me among other things, a Counsel of my choice and an independent witness of my liking. He told me I was aware of the consequences that would follow if he was to report this dialogue to his superiors. Knowing the implication of this since I had been subjected to series of torture I said he should allow me to have a man of God, Rev. Minister to be my witness…After arguing with him for quite a length of time about the unsuitability of the private witness, I gave up.

Kyereme Djan said:

….When I was arrested, I was taken to Police Headquarters on the Ring Road in Accra. I was kept in cells at the Police Headquarters. I was called to the counter around 8:00pm or thereabout and one Jack Gbeble asked the counter man to release me to him and four other soldiers all holding guns…. I was practically dragged into a waiting Police jeep where I saw Mawuli Goka in the jeep…We were driven off from the yard and somewhere around the Star Hotel, we stopped and two military vehicles joined us. We drove till we came around Tetteh Quarshie Round About just after the head rail line they branched right into an untarred route, few minutes later they stopped. Our handcuffs were released and Mawuli ordered to come down first. He was blind folded and later I was asked to come down too. I was then asked to come down too. My glasses (optical lenses) were removed by Jack Gbeble and crushed. I was then blind folded and handcuffed behind me as was done to Mawuli Goka before. We were told to run for our lives…Then somebody held me…and dragged me into what seems to be the floor of the vehicle….They took off…when the car finally stopped, I was beaten up what felt like a barbed wire, something like iron rod and the butt of a gun from all angles. Then when this had ceased after fifteen or so minutes, or so somebody said this is the beginning of what is in store for you if you don't admit the following:-

That the Gokas have been plotting or financing a coup plot and also we had come to town (myself and Mawuli) to purchase arms and ammunitions for this purpose…the beating that followed was unimaginable and at one stage I felt like a block hit my left forehead and that was the last thing I saw, I lost consciousness…

When I recovered, I heard Mawuli crying from beatings. Somebody else said I had been very difficult and almost immediately I felt my back being cut and I shouted, oh God, my back being cut and it was put into mouth with the orders I should chew my own flesh. I spat it off….

After a while, we were left on the floor. After asking me to lick something from the floor, something that tasted like urine, I was sent back into the vehicle together with Mawuli. All this time, I was naked. Then were sent to yet another destination. Then we were pulled into a pit and asked to say our last prayers. I heard Mawuli recite Psalm 23 whilst I said in my heart that Lord if it by your will, let this cup pass by and as if by miracle the shootings that had been going round above our heads stopped.

We were taken into the waiting vehicle and sent to another unknown destination… Later; I was given some gari mixed with sand to eat. I felt a second hand in the pan and that was where I realized it might be Mawuli…Then somewhere along the line somebody came to me and told me to co-operate with him…he said some guns have been found in my house…he said… I was to admit knowledge of those guns and he further gave me a list of names…Names like ANABA, ATA KULULU, AFORO and others I cannot remember. I was told to tell them that the Gokas had been plotting and in fact he gave me guidelines as to what to tell the bosses.

Then I lost track because I had been blindfolded but I think in the evening or so, Mawuli was brought to meet me….We were asked to say our stories according to the guidelines we had been given before…we were separated again. I was kept under a water tank… During all these times, my urine was the only water I had. For about a week people came for me... and asked me to rehearse a story. When I was finally perfect by their standard, I BNI headquarters….

At the BNI headquarters it was there my blindfold was removed for the first time and taken upstairs to meet a panel of investigators. There, I was asked to say my story. When I asked what story, somebody whom I later realized to be Mr. Tinga Naba (Peter Nanfuri) said I shouldn't waste his time and that I knew the story I was to tell them. If I didn't want to go back to where I had come from, so I said there as I had been told to do…..

…one day I was called from my cell and the 2nd accused Mr. Berko was brought in. We were asked to show our backs to him and without uttering any words. He was sent back….

….I was called to an office where I met Detective Inspector Atopley and one other gentleman. The Detective Inspector who I was seeing for the first time told me the other gentleman was to be a witness to my statement. I objected and asked for a Reverend Minister to be my witness…

…I started to write the statement after the Rev. Minister has been refused me… Mr. Atopley said… he was working for the government and so I had no option but to write the story I had been schooled to write. I therefore wrote it”

The other accused persons, too came under physical and mental pressure to confess to a role in a plot to overthrow the PNDC, and to implicate others.

Koomson also said:

I was asleep when the guard called me to come there. I met a WO II and two other soldiers. He asked me to join the vehicle…immediately we passed Congo Junction, he parked the car, took a duster and blind folded me….When the engine was started with my experience in the Army, I got to know it was a military pinzgeur… We went for a long time on both rough and smooth surface road. Later on we got to some point and the Pinzegeur stopped…. They opened the gate and pulled me out of the vehicle and they asked somebody to go for the keys. Later on the person came, they opened the door and somebody escorted me into the room…All of a sudden, I was slapped and I fell on the floor…from there others came into the room.. When the others came, they came and joined the first man and started beating me up. After beating me up for say fifteen minutes, they stopped and told me that was phase one. They asked me to be thinking and that they were going to come back again. Later on they came back and started mentioning some names to me and they asked me whether I knew them I said I don't even know them that was the first time I was hearing such names. They jumped on me and started beating me again…I was asked to strip naked and I did then later they handcuffed my hand at my back. They jumped on me and started beating and said I should admit the names they have mentioned…. I heard one tell the other to go and put the bayonet on fire…From there they started beating me again and they told me now they are coming out with some guidelines so that we make a story out of the guidelines…Later on they sent someone to go and bring the bayonet from the fire. Then I felt a sharp pain so I shouted, the pain was at my back and it was something like a burn that I heard someone saying we should do more. Then he ordered the one burning me to send the bayonet back on the fire. From there they came out with a story and they asked me to say the same thing but I made some mistakes and they jumped on me again. From there they started caning my penis.

I told them I beg them they should stop. I will do whatever they want me to do…All of a sudden I heard shots around me and I told them that they should stop it. I will do whatever they want me to do…I heard one of them asking the other to bring the bayonet out of the fire again. When the bayonet was brought they started burning me. My buttocks and foot…

Then they said I should say my last prayers they are going to finish me off. All of a sudden, I heard shots around me and I told them to stop and anything thy asked me to do I will do it…

I urinated and I was lying in the urine.. They stopped and told me to lick the urine on the floor…

Yaw Brefo Berko said;

Whilst at the BNI, I saw the 1st and 3rd accused persons and I was told to see what had been done to them. At the time I was being told the 1st accused was in a dark cell then he was brought from his cell to a bathroom…. I had to sign the statement because of the circumstances under which I was kept and the atrocities that had been meted to some of the junior boys who were in the cells with me….

Samuel Boamah Panyin said:

They started hitting me with thins like iron, sticks and barbed wire on my joints and this was done for about thirty minutes…I was beaten with an object like a barbed and some hot metal plate being used on my body and something like a knife being used in cutting my chest. My nails were removed both fingers and toes. My penis was lashed and I shouted for a while and I heard something being pushed down my throat…I felt something like a lighter to burn the penis and I felt the tip being slashed then I felt something like a needle being pushed into it. I urinated and eased…

Braimah Kankani said:

I felt my blindfold being removed and I saw two gentlemen standing naked with their hands in their backs in handcuffs bleeding seriously from their backs. Of them I could recognize Mawuli Goka and beside him was a fair coloured gentleman. I started crying… After the backs of the two Goka and Kyereme were shown to me after two days I was taken to BNI ACCRA REGION…. If he had kept his promise to consider the issue of admissibility after all the evidence was in, Agyekum would have had no choice but to reject the statements first because the prosecution led no evidence in rebuttal and , secondly, the harrowing experiences the accused persons, in particular, Mawuli Goka and Kyereme Djan went through pushed them to the limits of human endurance. It was enough not only to make them confess to whatever crimes their tormentors laid at their doors, but to persuade others to do the same. Man's inhumanity to man was displayed here as its worst. Two respected journalists, Kweku Baako, Jnr and Ben Ephson, testified before the Commission that during the trial they had the opportunity of examining some of the accused persons as to the nature and extent of their injuries.

Kweku Baako, Jnr. said:

Mawuli Goka, who was the first accused on the charge sheet, had had the tip of his penis split open slightly; he said by a certain object. So, it was bigger than normal and we are all men, so we know how it is. But obviously, it was bigger. His penis appeared to have been torched, that is, burnt. He suggested, he told me, that there was something like cotton, like a candle, it looked that way; and it never really extinguishes, I mean it doesn't burn out. That was what was used in torching his penis. The tip also was opened by a certain object that he wasn't sure what it was… With regard to Atta Kululu- Boama Panyin, he also had had a similar experience. The tip of his penis has also been split open slightly bigger than all of us had there. He hadn't had his torched but it kept on leaking off and on. So most times he was in cloth instead of wearing pants. According to him any time he wore pants and the object touched the pants he felt some pains... Kyeremeh Djan had had his back cut.” I saw it with my own eyes. According to him his back was cut and the flesh was given to him to chew. He refused. He shouted: “my back is being cut, my back is being cut.” He said he wouldn't eat it. The flesh then was given to Mawuli Goka to chew; he also said he refused … Warrant Officer' Aforo, his back had been cut. I just couldn't believe it. Some tribal marks had been made at his back- so many of them. I just didn't understand the rationale.

Ben Ephson also said:

Kyeremeh Gyan showed me his back, the left shoulder blade. There was a palm size cut and he told me that they used hot metal to cut the flesh and they asked Mawuli to chew. I asked Mawuli and he confirmed it. Mawuli also undressed to show me his male organ, which had been slit and he said they had tried to pull it out… W.O. Aforo also showed me the hand, which he said they had tied at a table and had used as target practice... Then Atta Panin who was always in cloth at the tribunal, opened and showed me what was left of his genital. It looked like the male organ and the testicles had been lumped together like, pardon my want of better use of the word, 'grilled' because there was always pus coming out. In his book, The Treason Trial of 1986, Agyekum makes light of the fact that prisoners could be taken away from the custody of the security agencies to be tortured. He writes at page 11.

I agree with Amnesty International that those responsible should be punished but it was true that those to hand out the investigation and punishment were the same persons responsible for those actions. Why say so? The BNI Director (Kofi Bentum Quantson) was a Police Commissioner the most senior of those who took the suspects away (Jack Beblie) was an RSM, could enter a well fortified institution as the BNI and the Police Information room and take away suspects, not only once or twice, but on several occasions with impunity, any reasonable man should know the source of where the culprits drew their power from. Did they expect the people to cut their nose to spite their face? To be frank Peter Nanfuri (Deputy Director, BNI) after the trial had bitterly complained to me about the activities of the commandos and how they were powerless to restrain them. By turning a blind eye on the tortures that went on under their very noses, not only Quantson and Nanfuri, but also Dr. Koranteng who treated them of their injuries and made no protest, and Agyekum, who tried and convicted them, became accessories to the human rights abuses committed by the PNDC regime. Agyekum, himself a former detainee, rationalizes his own role thus at page 23:

“The treatment and experience that I went through gave me the inspiration to work to stabilize the legal order. I had realized that without dealing with any one without fear or favour and especially dealing with military atrocities against civilians, the safety of the populace was at risk. In all modesty and humility Ghana will not be what it is today if some of us had not taken the actions and decisions that we took in the early days, anarchy and disorder in the PNDC era would have been worse than Idi Amin era. Indiscriminate killings and atrocities unprecedented in our history would have characterized the era. For the majority of soldiers closer to the PNDC, their understanding of revolution was to terroise, intimidate and maim the civilian population and disregard authority.” The question arises whether, apart from the confession statements, there was sufficient evidence of the guilt of the accused persons. The salient points made in the evidence of th prosecution witnesses were as follows:

1. Evidence of Francis Asante Mensah that at Boamah's request he kept suitcases containing guns for him and that Kankani and Goka came to inspect them on different dates.

2. Evidence of John Anaba Chrimsah that Alanko who was being tried in absentia sought his assistant in procuring a single-barrelled gun.

3. Evidence of Staff Sgt. Samuel Yaw Bediako that Kankani sought his assistance in procuring ammunition.

4. Evidence of Cpl. Kwabena Owusu that Alanko, Kankani and one Adamu called on him and asked him to procure ammunition in furtherance of the plot to overthrow the PNDC.

5. Evidence of Cpl. Owusu Kwabena that Alanko and Djan went to see him, that Djan was holding a polythene bag which Alanko said contained ¢50,000 and that the bag was given to him.

6. Evidence of Evelyn Osei Owiredu that on a visit to her husband, Edusei, in Lome she found that he was living in the same house as the Goka brothers – Christian, Frank, Eric and Mawuli.

7. Evidence of Captain Robert Ofei Sackey that during a search of the residence of WO II Aforo an amount of CFA 30,000 was recovered from his wife.

8. Evidence of Victor Agbenatoe that during a search of the house of Evelyn Djan, sister of Kyereme Djan, a sack containing guns was found under her bed. Evelyn Djan was called as a witness for the prosecution. She disclaimed all knowledge of the sack and said that when the police showed her the sack as having been found under her bed they did not show her its contents. Aforo was not present when his rooms were searched. Apart from the CFA 30,000 which the BNI operatives collected from his wife, nothing incriminating was found. Boamah denied asking Mensah to keep any guns for him. If that evidence is true then he could not have shown any such guns to Kankani and Goka. Corporal Owusu's evidence called for an explanation from Alanko but not from Goka as it amounted only to a suspicion that Goka knew the purpose for which the money was handed over to him. For the rest, neither the alleged visit by Boamah to a diviner, nor the fact that the Goka brothers lived under the same roof with Edusei was proof of a conspiracy of any kind. Evelyn was in custody when she testified as a prosecution witness, and remained in custody for more than four years afterwards, without charge or trial. Even if Goka, Kyereme Djan and their co-accused were engaged in a plot to overthrow the PNDC, their actions were lawful since the PNDC had usurped the authority of the State and constituted itself into a government. Article 1 Clause 3 of the Constitution of Ghana, 1979 stated:

1(3) All citizens of Ghana shall have the right to resist any person or persons seeking to abolish the constitutional order as established by this Constitution should no other remedy be possible.

This call on citizens to resist all those who would want to ride rough- shod over their rights and liberties has been couched in even stronger language in Article 3 clauses 4 - 7 of the Constitution of Ghana, 1992. They provide as follows”

3(4) All citizens of Ghana shall have the right and duty at all times -

(a) to defend this constitution, and in particular, to resist any person or group of persons seeking to commit any of the acts referred to in clause (3) of this article; and

(b) to do all in their power to restore this Constitution after it has been suspended, overthrown, abrogated as referred to in clause (3) of this article.

(5) Any person or group of persons who suppresses or resists the suspension overthrow or abrogating of this Constitution as referred to in clause (3) of this article commits no offence.

(6) Where a person referred to in clause (5) of this article is punished for any act done under that clause, the punishment shall, on the restoration of this Constitution, be taken to be void from the time it was imposed and he shall, from that time, be taken to be absolved from all liabilities arising out of the punishment.

(7) The Supreme Court shall, on application by or on behalf of a person who has suffered any punishment or loss to which clause (6) of this article relates, award him adequate compensation, which shall be charged on the Consolidated Fund, in respect of any suffering or loss incurred as a result of the punishment. If the execution of these young men was intended to deter others from seeking to overthrow dictatorial and unconstitutional governments, as indeed it was, it is equally incumbent on us to encourage others to follow their worthy example by acknowledging the supreme sacrifice they made in the cause of liberty.

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