1. NATIONAL RECONCILIATION COMMISSION REPORT STATEMENT BY TSATSU TSIKATA Throughout this week, newspapers in the country, starting with a newspaper that is closely affiliated with the current Government, have published what are claimed to be excerpts from the report of the National Reconciliation Commission. It is evident that the report, which was presented to the President on Tuesday 12th October 2004, has been “leaked”.
At paragraph 220.127.116.11 of the published excerpt, my name features as having been present “at a hastily summoned meeting at Gondar Barracks” and it is claimed that all those who were at the meeting knew Amartey Kwei “had carried out the abduction” of the judges and the retired army major. The Commission apparently relies for these statements on evidence of the then Attorney-General, Mr. George Aikins, and proceeds to recite a portion of his evidence about Amartey Kwei being called in to the meeting and stating that “they had 'finished' them, meaning, they had killed them.”
I gave evidence on oath and in public before the National Reconciliation Commission.
I categorically denied having been at any such meeting. Previous to that, I had provided a written statement to the Commission in response to those allegations by Mr. Aikins of which the Commission had notified me in writing. I submitted that statement to the Commission on Friday 12th March 2004. I made it clear that I was not at Gondar Barracks on the day in question. The following Monday, 15th March 2004, Mr. Aikins appeared at a public sitting of the Commission and now changed the date of the alleged meeting from 1st July 1982 to 2nd July 1982, claiming that he had referred to certain records in his possession to refresh his memory. It was obvious from the question that was posed by counsel to the Commission, who led Mr. Aikins in evidence, that counsel was unaware of Mr. Aikins' change in the date of the meeting, though, apparently, others at the Commission were already aware. Mr. Aikins, who had in his written statement only mentioned me as having “been around” when he went to Gondar Barracks that day for a meeting with the PNDC Chairman, now in his oral testimony, ropes both Captain Tsikata and me into the meeting, conveniently laying the groundwork for the following passage in the claimed Report of the Commission: “18.104.22.168 ….For a decision of such moment [as the abduction and, perhaps, murder of the judges], Rawlings looked to a small coterie of advisors which included Captain Kojo Tsikata and Tsatsu Tsikata”! No evidence existed before the Commission for this outrageous falsehood.
In my cross-examination of Mr. Aikins, he admitted he had made changes to his story. He admitted that in his own handwritten statement to the Commission he had only talked of me “being around” when he went to Gondar Barracks on 1st July 1982. He also acknowledged that this handwritten statement was then typed at the offices of the Commission and sent to him to vet and, again, the typewritten version did not have the account that he later gave in his oral evidence in public. Based on his admission that he had previously given evidence before the Commission in camera, I sought to question Mr. Aikins further with a view to showing that his evidence in camera was inconsistent with his evidence in public. As is public knowledge, I was prevented by the Chairman of the Commission, Justice Amua-Sekyi, from so doing on the basis that Mr. Aikins should not give evidence of what took place in camera. This position was taken harshly and unilaterally by the Chairman despite the fact that the Commission had at no point determined that the evidence given in camera by Justice Aikins was to be restricted but had, on the contrary, decided, having heard him in camera, that his evidence should be heard in public. The Chairman also disregarded the clear provision of the Act setting up the Commission that for “good reason” any restriction on disclosure of what took place in camera could be lifted by the Commission. In any event, nothing prevented the Commission from deciding to take in camera the portion of my cross-examination that concerned evidence previously heard in camera so as to give me a fair chance.
It is a TRAVESTY OF JUSTICE for the Commission to place such reliance, as it does, on one version of the testimony of Mr. Aikins without even addressing the uncontested fact of inconsistencies between previous written statements of the witness and his oral evidence in public. What is more, the evidence of Mr Aikins was not of “a hastily summoned meeting at Gondar Barracks” but of his going to see the Chairman of the PNDC, Flight Lieutenant Rawlings, in the normal course of business. From earlier testimony claiming I “was around” when he went to Gondar Barracks that day, Mr. Aikins, after his several interactions with the Commission, escalated his claims to the point where not only was I in the meeting but Captain Tsikata was also there! Evidently, the pre-ordained conclusion of the Commission was to be of the “hastily summoned meeting at Gondar Barracks, at which Captain Tsikata and Tsatsu Tsikata were present”; Mr. Aikins' evidence had to be made, by hook or crook, to support it! Is it not strange that Mr. Aikins who, as Attorney-General in 1982, had a key role in respect of the investigations into the murders, should have kept such crucial evidence as he now claims to have had from the Special Investigation Board which he played a key role in setting up- according to him, he had a free hand in nominating the Chairman- and whose report was dealt with by him? Is it not incredible that Mr. Aikins should only now - more than twenty years later - be telling these stories for the first time?
My efforts in cross-examination to elicit from Mr. Aikins the truth from the various inconsistent statements he had made were obviously regarded as a nuisance! No wonder the time allowed me for my cross-examination was rudely curtailed by the Chairman of the Commission who, throughout my cross-examination and, indeed, during my other appearances before the Commission, exhibited blatant hostility and bias against me. When I also sought to have the Commission order Mr. Aikins to produce the written records which he claimed to have used to refresh his memory on the date of his supposed meeting at Gondar Barracks I was again shut down by the Chairman of the Commission. Why was the Chairman of a Commission that was meant to establish a historical record so averse to having a record that a witness claimed to have in his custody produced before it, especially when the witness had given previous inconsistent testimony and the accuracy of his current account had been directly and strongly challenged?
As I stated in my evidence before the Commission, neither on 1st July 1982 –the original date given by Mr. Aikins – nor on 2nd July 1982 –the date subsequently given by Mr. Aikins –was I at Gondar Barracks at a meeting such as he claimed. I was never anywhere where Amartey Kwei came and made the statement Mr. Aikins says he did about the murders. I am making available to the public my written address to the Commission as well as my statement to the Commission in response to what the Commission wrote to tell me Mr. Aikins had said. I hope the newspapers who have given prominence to the unfounded conclusions of the Commission against me will also publish fully my position. Members of the public can then judge for themselves.
I am applying officially for a copy of the full Report; this will enable me also address passages about responses allegedly given by Flight-Lieutenant Rawlings to questions from the Commission to which I was not privy but all of which are featured in the cocktail of falsehood. I look forward, particularly, to seeing the evidence on the basis of which the Commission describes me as “mentor” of Chairman Rawlings! It is obvious that despite high-sounding professions to the contrary, the “leak” of excerpts of the Report of the National Reconciliation Commission is intended for vindictive personal purposes and for partisan electoral propaganda. It is certainly not intended for the purposes of national reconciliation or for truth-seeking. To give official cover for falsehood against me, as would clearly have been done by the Commission assuming the published excerpts are authentic parts of their report, can never be a basis for national reconciliation or national unity. If, however, these published excerpts are not authentic it is only right that the Commission say so promptly.
It is truth that reconciles; falsehoods divide!
TSATSU TSIKATA 21ST October 2004 2I provided written statements in response to the evidence of the two persons having obtained transcripts of their evidence. In respect of Justice Aikins, I submitted my written statement early afternoon on Friday, 12th March 2004. I had spent several hours earlier that day at the premises of the Commission. Before leaving I had indicated to the official of the Commission attending to me that I would be traveling outside the country. Just as I was leaving for the Airport that afternoon to travel, I received a hearing notice indicating that a complaint filed with the Commission by Mr. Kwabena Agyepong would come on for hearing on Monday, 15th March 2004 at 9.00am. I immediately notified the Commission in writing that I would not be available on that day. That happened to be the day that Justice Aikins was to testify. The Commission subsequently fixed a date -17th June 2004 – for me to cross-examine Justice Aikins, but he did not show up at the Commission that day. Another date -21st June 2004 -was fixed and I was then able to cross-examine him in circumstances which will be detailed below. I also gave evidence to the Commission in respect of the allegations of Justice Aikins.
In my written statement in response to Mr. Asher I addressed not only the allegations recited in the letter the Executive Secretary of the Commission sent me in respect of Mr. Asher, referred to above, but also certain allegations about me -in connection with the murder of one “Yeye Boy” -which were not referred to at all in the said letter. I subsequently cross-examined Mr. Asher and also gave evidence to the Commission in response to his allegations.
I became aware that Squadron-Leader Tagoe had also mentioned my name in evidence before the Commission though , again, I had not been written to in respect to this. I requested access to his petition, transcripts of his evidence, as well as the opportunity to cross-examine him. I was allowed to read his petition at the premises of the Commission and I was provided the transcript of his evidence. I was, however, not given the opportunity to cross-examine him. I have made a written statement in response which I rely on.
I also requested the opportunity to cross-examine Mr. Kwabena Agyepong, whose father was one of the murdered judges and whose petition was apparently the basis of the testimony of Justice Aikins. Mr. Agyepong, who is Press Secretary to the President, has, in addition to giving evidence before the Commission, been making many statements in public –some false – in connection with the issue of the murders both before and since his appearance before the Commission. I was asked to write a statement in response to his petition which I did. I was, however, not given the opportunity to cross-examine him. JUSTICE G.E.K. AIKINS The letter sent to me in respect of the testimony of Justice Aikins, dated 26th February 2004 and delivered to me on 10th March 2004, indicated that that according to Justice Aikins, the day after the kidnap and murder of the three judges and the army officer, he happened to be at the office of the Chairman of the PNDC at Gondar Barracks and a number of persons, including myself, “were around”. He had gone on to state that during the meeting with the Chairman Mr. Amartey Kwei was sent for by the Chairman and he had come to say “they had 'finished' them, meaning they had been killed”. By the time Justice Aikins testified orally in public on Monday, 15th March 2004 his story had been added to significantly. It was no longer a question of my having “been around” when he went to a meeting with the Chairman at Gondar Barracks.
“JUSTICE AIKINS: I was in the office of the Chairman and I believe and I am certain that certain people were also there.
MR. MINGLE: Please, can we have their names if you can remember?
JUSTICE AIKINS: I can recollect that of Tsatsu Tsikata, because we were there to discuss..when I am always there legal matters. I recollect that Captain Tsikata too was there and during the course of the discussion, the chairman remarked that there was some sort of uneasiness in the barracks about some judges that had been kidnapped. The chairman then asked Captain Tsikata to go and call Amartey Kwei, so Captain Tsikata left. When Amartey Kwei… he returned then Amartey Kwei also came in. Then the chairman asked him…in fact, he told him that there had been this uneasiness and asked him to release the judges immediately. And what did Amartey Kwei say? [Though attributed to Justice Aikins in the transcript, this last sentence sounds like a question from Counsel] He said they had finished with them, that is, they had been killed.” Significantly, Mr. Justice Aikins had previously given evidence in camera. At that session, according to him, not all members of the Commission were present. The Chairman and the Executive Secretary were present. Thereafter, he had been asked to put his evidence into writing. He had gone home and written by hand responses to a questionnaire from the Commission “rather than make a statement. The reason is that I personally have no axe to grind and no personal problem to canvass.” After he sent his handwritten response, it got typed “by courtesy” of the Executive Secretary and then sent back to him to be corrected. The typewritten version made available to me by the Executive Secretary was said to have been approved by Justice Aikins. In this version, and presumably in the handwritten version, Justice Aikins had only said: “You may wish to know that the day after the kidnap and the murder of the victims I happened to be at the Chairman's office at Gondar Barracks on duty. A number of persons, including Mr. Tsatsu Tsikata were around. During the course of our deliberations the Chairman chipped in and said ..” In this version he does not say that I participated in or was privy to the conversation Justice Aikins claims to have had with the Chairman. However, by the time he gives evidence in public on the 15th March 2004 he claims to be “certain” about the presence of “certain people” in the office of the chairman. He mentions my name with the explanation that he was there to discuss legal matters and claims to recollect that Captain Tsikata was also there. These are the only names he gives. He then has the chairman remarking about unease concerning some judges having been kidnapped and asking Captain Tsikata to go and call Amartey Kwei.
It may be observed in passing how culturally odd it would be that the one to be sent from the room to call a person outside- the young Amartey Kwei - would be Captain Tsikata and not the much younger Tsatsu Tsikata who would have been the youngest person amongst those Justice Aikins mentioned as being in the office of the Chairman! Why would one of the older persons present be the one sent on this errand? Indeed, were there no staff or other persons who could have carried out this simple errand of calling Amartey Kwei quite apart from participants at the meeting, if, indeed, such a meeting took place? Captain Tsikata's name is introduced to spice up the story and he has to be accorded a role, however unlikely!
More significant in exposing the falsehood of Mr. Justice Aikins' story, however, is the fact that in oral testimony he changes the date of the alleged meeting. By the time he testified in public on Monday, 15th March I had submitted the previous Friday, 12th March 2004 my written response to the allegation quoted in the letter of the Executive Secretary dated 26th February 2004 delivered to me on 10th March 2004. I said “I was not at Gondar Barracks on the day after the kidnap and murder of the judges and the army officer, 1st July 1982 and therefore could not have been 'around' as Mr. Justice Aikins claims.” 1st July is, of course, a national public holiday and in 1982 was also the day when the ceremony to inaugurate the Kpong hydro-electric project took place.
When Counsel for the Commission was leading Justice Aikins in evidence, basing himself obviously on the written statement of Justice Aikins, Counsel asked:
“Now, on the 1st of July, were you at Gondar Barracks for a meeting…” to which Justice Aikins replies:
“Actually, I have checked the records, you would find that my note over there said 1st, but actually I was given very limited time by the Executive Secretary to respond to the questionnaire that he gave me. So hurriedly, I had to write and even what I sent to him was in my own handwriting.”
It cannot have been without significance that at this point in the examination-in-chief the Executive Secretary leant over to counsel to tell him something which must have been related to the issue that had arisen. Witness is told by both the Chairman and Counsel that he can make any corrections and he proceeds to state: “In fact, I checked and something and it was the 2nd that is the next available day that I had to go to the Burma Camp and not the 1st.” When it was sought in cross-examination to test the claim of the witness to have checked from records of his in order to correct the date by having him produce the record he claimed to have consulted, the Chairman of the Commission arbitrarily terminated the cross-examination without the Commission making a determination on this application. As became plain in the cross-examination of Justice Aikins his claim to have been hurried in writing his response and therefore not having checked the date was false:
“TT: Now, Mr. Justice Aikins, you explained here that you gave the wrong date because of limited time that was given to you to respond to the questionnaire. That's what you explained?
JA: No, what I am saying is that when I was replying to the questionnaire, I had in mind the next day, the day after the 30th of June that I had occasion to go to Gondar Barracks, that is why I put down the 1st. But when I checked my records, it should be the 2nd.” Witness retreats from his earlier indication in both examination –in- chief and cross-examination. In an earlier passage of the cross-examination also, the inability of the witness to explain satisfactorily the change of date is apparent:
“TT: ... You made the statement before or when you were summoned here?
JA: I made the statement before I was summoned here.
TT: And this was in your own handwriting?
TT: And I take it you wrote it at home by yourself?
TT: Okay. And when you came here, you submitted that statement in its original form?
TT: ….by the way, that statement, was it submitted in response to a letter from the Executive Secretary to the Commission?
TT: Was that letter given to you when you came here?
JA: No, it was sent to me in the house. …..
TT: So you prepared your statement in response to that letter at home? JA: Yes.
TT: And then brought it with you when you came to the Commission?
JA: I brought a copy with me. The original was sent to the Commission before I came here.”
Further on also:
“TT: The typed version was actually sent to you to vet and approve, Mr. Justice Aikins.
JA: I requested that the typed version should be made because when I read through what was sent to me, I realized that (that is the typed version) I realize that… I was told, let me go back a little bit. After I had submitted my handwritten one, I was told that it would be typed because it might not be very easy for people see my real handwriting and then they would let me have a copy. When I received a copy, I read through and I realized that the one who typed it was not very familiar with my handwriting so I corrected the typed copy and sent it back to the Executive Secretary and requested or pleaded with him to have it retyped and told him that I will prefer that the retyped copy should rather be circulated to the Commissioners and others if necessary because I didn't want anybody to read my handwriting one and then misquote or write down something that he couldn't decipher.
TT: So you checked a version of the typewritten, corrected it and sent it back to be finalized?
JA: Yes, I did.”
Though Justice Aikins sought to maintain that he was in a hurry, his story changes from being hurried to submit his handwritten version to being in a hurry to get it typed:
“TT: Now, and in that typewritten copy, the date that you provided remained the 1st of July. Is that correct?
JA: It remained the 1st of July because I was in a hurry to get it typed and not to get the handwritten one circulated or given to anybody but I preferred that the corrections were made so I did it, I sat down within a few minutes, about fifteen-twenty minutes, finished with it and sent it back to them straight away. I didn't check anything on record or that sort of thing, there was no opportunity but I know I was..”
Pressed about the fact that he had the opportunity to correct the date witness refuses to answer, and when it is later put to him that “ ..when you came that day to give evidence, you became aware that your account of the 1st of July would not hold”, he evades the issue:
“JA: That is funny, my Lord, that is funny.
TT: What is funny? You became aware when you came that day that the 1st of July would not hold. Did you tell anybody before you came into the witness box that you had checked your records? Did you tell anybody at all?
JA: [witness chuckles] Mr. Chairman, this line of cross-examination..
TT: Did you tell anybody?
JA: This line of cross-examination is new to me.”
Instead of answering the simple question, witness seeks an intervention from the Chairman, -and gets it!
“TT: Did you tell anybody, Mr. Justice Aikins?
CHAIRMAN: It's all right, please be patient and ..
TT: Did you tell anybody..
CHAIRMAN: We have five minutes to go anyway.
TT: .. Did you tell anybody when you arrived here that you had checked your records and found that the date was wrong?
JA: I didn't.
TT: Okay, so to all intents and purposes, when you were sitting there, for the first time, you notified the Commission that you had checked your records.
TT: ..Between January 29th when you wrote your statement and March 15th, you had every opportunity to notify the Commission about your checking of records.
JA: I was not in all that correspondence with the Commission.
TT: I said you had every opportunity to notify the Commission after you checked your records.
JA: You may take it as you wish.
TT: But you never notified the Commission about any such checking of records. Is that correct?
JA: I did not.”
Justice Aikins in cross-examination tried to deny simple truths:
“TT: … you did meet with the Commission at Black Star Square is that correct? JA: What you are talking about is news to me”. A little later he has to retreat from this lie:
“TT: Now, you've never met the Commission anywhere else apart from here?
JA: Apart from here?
TT: Yea, have you met the Commission anywhere?
JA: I have, I have.
JA: At the Black Star Square.
TT: At the Black Star Square. So you now recall that you have met the Commission at the Black Star Square?
JA: No, not that I now recall, I want you to be specific.”
The attempt through cross-examination to establish that his evidence during in camera hearings was also inconsistent with the evidence in the public hearing was blocked by the Chairman:
“TT: Well, Mr. Justice Aikins, I am suggesting to you that you said one thing in a previous sitting of the Commission and when you came here, at another sitting, you said another thing ..
CHAIRMAN: Please don't answer that question, Mr. Justice Aikins, don't answer it.” Despite the attention of the Commission being drawn to the terms of s. 12(4) of the NRC Act which allow for good reasons to be adduced as to why in camera matters can be made public, the Chairman, without consulting with other members, refused disclosure of what took place in camera and overruled important questions seeking to expose the inconsistencies in various versions of the evidence of Justice Aikins. Strangely, the Chairman allowed questions as to whether all the Commissioners were at the in camera hearing and whether the Executive Secretary was also there but refused to allow questions that would expose the inconsistencies in the substance of the witness' testimony on different occasions and therefore manifest his unreliability. If the Commission had determined after the evidence in camera of Justice Aikins that it was necessary under s. 12 to keep such evidence private they would not have had him now testify in public. They would have had him remain in camera and had any cross-examination of him also conducted in camera. Having made his evidence public, it was wrong for the Chairman to block cross-examination seeking to demonstrate the different versions of his evidence. This amounted to a denial to me of fairness and natural justice as is required of the NRC. Having regard also to the fact that the witness was a colleague of the Chairman in the Supreme Court not too long ago, the conduct of the Chairman did not give the appearance of justice being done; it manifested bias and unfair treatment. It is significant that at the same sitting of the Commission, matters involving national security, sensitive matters of state and foreign relations involving the betrayal of the state by certain individuals and subsequent bilateral negotiations which were testified to by Mr. Kwamena Ahwoi were not given the same protection as was given by the respondent to the testimony Mr. Justice Aikins gave during earlier hearings of his.
The Chairman typically expressed himself towards me in an angry, peremptory and hostile tone. Statements such as that I could not lecture the Commission and that I had wasted time during my cross-examination on inessentials, were unjustified and manifested personal prejudice of the Chairman.
On the occasion when my cousin, Captain (Rtd) Kojo Tsikata, also appeared before the Commission the Chairman acted in a similar manner towards him as well as towards his counsel, Dr. Obed Asamoah. Indeed the very words he used to me about not coming to lecture the Commission were used by the Chairman to Dr. Asamoah. The conduct of the Chairman during the appearances before the Commission of Captain Tsikata and myself create the impression of bias against us in favour of a former colleague of his with whom the Chairman has common cause and is eager to protect from embarrassment, at least. The perception created is that the Chairman has a bone to pick with us Tsikatas as well as Dr. Asamoah. The indications in the evidence of Justice Aikins of deeply held grievances against certain people, including Captain Tsikata, for instance, were similar to the apparent hostility of the Chairman towards me during my cross-examination of his former colleague. Indeed, the conduct of the Chairman towards both Captain Tsikata and me was contrary to the terms of his statutory role. The expressed statutory objective of the Commission is national reconciliation and the Act establishing the Commission even makes it an offence for a member of the Commission “through association, statement, conduct or in any manner [to] jeopardize the independence or harm the credibility, impartiality or integrity of the Commission.” The Chairman denied me access to the original handwritten version of the witness's response to the questionnaire he was sent though I had been promised by the Executive Secretary that he would obtain it from the Chairman. He dismissed my request for it as an administrative matter not to be addressed at a sitting of the commission, even though I made it clear that I had done everything in the administrative arena to have access to the document but had not succeeded because the required material was in the custody of the Chairman! I had drawn the attention of the Executive Secretary to the fact that the photocopy he provided was garbled, with the sequence of pages being mixed up and he saw the point, hence his promise to ask the Chairman for the original.
I had also emphasized to both the Executive Secretary and his Executive Assistant that by the time I had to do my cross-examination I would need to have seen the original document. Prior to my cross-examination of Justice Aikins, I was also denied access to the petition of Kwabena Agyepong which was the basis of both Justice Aikins and myself being called to testify before the Commission
In my testimony before the Commission I have made it clear that neither on 1st July nor on 2nd July 1982 was I at Gondar Barracks to be involved in a meeting as claimed by Justice Aikins. Captain Tsikata, in his evidence, has also denied the allegation about this alleged meeting. Indeed, it would be extraordinary that having come upon such information on 2nd July 1982 we are hearing about it for the first time from someone who was then the Attorney-General twenty-two years later. This is incredible. It is also inconceivable that Amartey Kwei whom I cross-examined during the proceedings of the SIB and who was extremely hostile to me would not refer to this incident if it had, indeed, taken place. Nowhere in the records of interrogations of Kwei or the SIB proceedings or at his trial was there a shred of evidence backing up the story of Justice Aikins. It is my submission that the testimony of Justice Aikins is obviously unreliable.
MR. CHRIS ASHER Chris Asher sent a petition to the Commission from abroad and arrangements were made for his evidence sometime in August 2003. His petition indicated that he had escaped prison custody whilst serving a sentence imposed by a Public Tribunal for fraud and he requested that he be able to appear before the Commission without being re-arrested. Evidently, this request was granted even though the manner of such grant of “immunity” remains shrouded in mystery. Public statements of the Executive Secretary to the Commission have indicated that the Commission granted Mr. Asher immunity in connection with his appearance before the Commission but that Mr. Asher extended his stay beyond the allowed date and went on to launch a book titled “Kidnap & Murder of the Judges & Rtd. Army Major -Rawlings and Kojo Tsikata Ordered Killings” in which he repeats and embellishes many of the allegations he made during his testimony. During his testimony Asher had given the erroneous impression that he was now looking for funding to publish the book when in fact the book was probably then already at the printer's!
Mr. Asher claims to have obtained certain disclosures during his period of incarceration at Nsawam Prison regarding the murder of the judges and the army major. According to him he became a legal adviser to Amedeka, Dzandu, Senya and Tekpor when they were appearing before the Special Investigation Board set up to investigate the murders and later when they were on trial before the Public Tribunal. Though in his examination -in- chief before this Commission he makes allegations that are based largely on what he claims was told him by Amedeka, in cross-examination, asked:
“TT: Now, Mr. Asher, your principal source of the so-called disclosures that you made before this Commission is Lance Corporal Amedeka. Is that correct?”, he replies:
“CA: That is not correct.
TT: Can we say a main source of your disclosures is Lance Corpoal Amedeka? CA: Still not correct.
TT: Very well. But you have been in touch with Lance Corporal Amedeka.
CA: No.” These opening answers of the cross-examination clearly lay bare the massive deception that Mr. Asher has perpetrated on the Commission and on the country. His admission that Amedeka is not even “a main source” of his disclosures contradicts the body of his evidence-in-chief and his petition but is absolutely correct:
the “main source” of his “disclosures” is really his devious mind through which he appears to believe he can invent any story against those he and his associates have in their sights as targets and make people believe these inventions. Amedeka could not, indeed, have been the source of his stories because the account Amedeka gave of the murders to the SIB is wholly at variance with the account that Asher attributes to him in examination in chief. Amedeka could not have been the source because, even under considerable pressure during interrogation by the investigation team of the SIB to implicate Captain Tsikata, for instance, Amedeka would say to his interrogators that he did not understand why the name of Captain Tsikata was always being thrown at him like that. Amedeka could, indeed, not have been the source of “disclosures” about me being a part of the conspiracy to murder the judges and the army major. I was counsel during the SIB and had occasion to cross-examine Amedeka. If, indeed, he had anything to disclose about me he would no doubt have done so during this cross-examination. Why would he let someone who had been part of the conspiracy with him now distance himself as counsel?
At no point in all the investigations of these murders did any of the people Asher claimed in evidence-in-chief spoke to him mention my name as a participant in the crimes. In none of their statements to the police did any such claim surface. Not even in the addresses before the public tribunal, which Asher says he wrote for Dzandu and Tekpor, are any of his current inventions found. If, indeed, Asher had “disclosures” with documentary support, in the handwriting of Amedeka and others, why would he wait for over twenty years to come up with them? Especially when he was seeking to portray his escape from prison and flight from Ghana in terms of political persecution?
The statement in Asher's petition: “I have been able to preserve those notes and writings for over twenty years and I am sure that given the opportunity, the Nation will learn what actually went on during those dark days in the history of Ghana” was obviously believed by the Commission. According to the Executive Secretary of the Commission, when Asher was asked upon arrival about these documents he initially said his luggage had not arrived. Subsequently, on the day he was at the Commission to give evidence, there was no further request that he produce the documents.
Yet the Transcript has the Executive Secretary indicating in response to a question from the Chairman that all the documents from Asher have been provided to the Commission. When I asked Asher in cross-examination on what basis he told the Commission he could bring Amedeka if he was not in touch with him, after much evasion, he provided this non-answer:
“CA: ..the basis upon which I said I would bring Amedeka is that, he is a very important witness: he is the only living declarant of the events that transpired before December 31st and up to 30th June in which the gentleman sitting there [inaudible..]”
The devious mind of Asher is set on its course of falsehood. But in his admission that he is not in touch with Amedeka despite the earlier claims he made, a glimmer of the reality begins to surface. Who is it that is in touch with Amedeka and from whom Asher has gleaned enough indication of the possibility of Amedeka being available to give evidence to the Commission for Asher's deviousness to embark on its wild frolic? If the Commission did not believe that Asher had handwritten documents by Amedeka which could shed new light on the murders, if the Commission did not believe that Asher's testimony could be the stepping-stone to the evidence of Amedeka, would there have been the elaborate device of an “immunity”, whose provenance remains a closely-guarded secret, constructed for Asher to flaunt his untouchable status, his overwhelming state protection and hospitality in the face of people who are even relatives of his who believe that he killed their loved one in cold blood and that he is evading justice? Why is it that others are brought from prison custody to testify before the Commission but an exception has to be made with Asher?
In cross-examination Asher claimed: “There is no murder charge against me. Are you a lawyer”, he has the effrontery to ask me. Yet, in his own petition to the Commission, he says: “Barely three days before my escape from the prisons, Bills of Indictment were served on me. But it was too late. My exit plans had been complete ..”
In cross-examination Asher resorts, like others, to evasion:
“TT: ..I am putting it to you that those bills of indictment were in respect of a murder charge. Is that correct?
CA: I refuse to answer that.
TT: You can't refuse to answer that.
CA: I refuse to answer… …… TT: I am putting it to you that they were in respect of the murder charge.
CA: Mr. Tsatsu.
CHAIRMAN: Let's have one at a time, I repeat.”
Asher must feel that refusing to answer is part of his “immunity”, and a little later, he digs in further:
“CA: Mr. Tsatsu Tsikata, just listen to me and listen to me right to the extent that whatever I said there is not defined, it is not open to you and it lies very foul in your mouth to substitute your own view and your opinion. And beyond that, I answer no question in relation to the so-called murder charge. If I am today served with proper papers, I would appear.”
There is evidence before the Commission in the form of an affidavit of a magistrate before whom committal proceedings took place in respect of the murder charge confirming what the petition of Asher says about the service on him of the bill of indictment. An account is given in the affidavit of the facts of the case presented by the police: “Ofori Atta was killed in the hours of 6.30pm to 7.00pm that day.
About 4.00pm that afternoon Lawyer Chris Asher came to the Akim-Oda police station with a gun in hand. The Police asked the lawyer Chris Asher what he was doing with the gun. The lawyer did not give any tangible reply, but jokingly conversed with the Police. In the same evening, a murder was reported at the Police Station. A few hours later in the same evening, a taxi driver came to the Police Station, saying that he suspected lawyer Asher to have committed the MURDER, adding that the Lawyer hired his taxi that evening to a certain place around Agona Nsabaa and he the taxi driver did not like his behaviour in the car. So when he returned to Akim Oda the same evening and learnt of the sudden killing of Ofori Atta, he at once came to the Akim Oda Police Station and narrated his observations to the Police.
.. armed with this information the Police, led by the taxi driver, journeyed deep in the night and arrested Chris Asher from his hide out.
..upon investigations the Police found out that Chris Asher had plans to leave Ghana after the killing of Ofori Atta. .. further investigations by the Police showed that the gun which Chris Asher used in killing Ofori Atta was given by Asher to a woman believed to be Asher's sister or sister-in-law to dispose of the gun.
.. the facts before me showed that the Police vigorously interrogated this woman to show how and where the gun had been kept. Finally, she led the police to a pit latrine into which she had dumped the gun. The police retrieved this gun and showed it to me in open court and in view of a host of persons who were in court to listen to proceedings.”
There could be no clearer indication that a straightforward and serious murder case, without the political interpretations Asher sought to introduce about the case, is pending against Asher. The evidence made available to the police is from persons who came into direct contact with him in the period – a taxi-driver who drove him, a woman believed to be his sister or sister-in-law to him he had given a gun and other items like his briefcase to be hidden, the police who saw him holding a gun - and who gave accounts of their encounters with him. None of these witnesses had anything to do with the PNDC. The magistrate's account also details the circumstances of the service on Asher of the Bill of Indictment and his subsequent failure to appear: “[A]bout 9 months thereafter and around the year 1983 the Police investigator brought to me on a Monday in open court a BILL OF INDICTMENT prepared by the office of the Attorney-General at Koforidua.
…. Police made it clear to me that the Bill of Indictment they had given to me was my own copy as a court. And that they had another copy in their hand to be given to Chris Asher which they showed to me.
… the Police Investigator further said to me that he was on his way to the Nsawam Medium Security Prisons and the hand to Chris Asher his copy of the BILL OF INDICTMENT containing particulars of charge of MURDER preferred against Chris Asher for the murder of Ofori Atta, saying that the Police would bring him to my Court at Akim Oda the following Thursday.
…. on the following Thursday the Police did not turn up in court and Chris Asher was not also brought to court.
…. in exactly a week's time i.e. the following Monday, the investigator alone appeared in open court, saying Chris Asher could not be seen again after he had delivered to him his copy of the Bill of Indictment.
The Police investigator further said Chris Asher had told the prison authorities that he was sick and needed medical attention at the Government Hospital at Nsawam.
They traced him and could not get him at the hospital and nowhere else could they get him.” Indeed, the police had evidently got wind of his plans to escape before it happened.
The desperate lies of Asher in seeking to politicise the murder charge against him are exposed in the sworn testimony of the magistrate.
From a reading of Asher's own petition it is clear that the bill of indictment could refer to no other charge against Asher than the murder charge despite the attempt of Asher in cross-examination to run away from this. Asher's evasiveness on this matter is itself tell-tale. He is seeking to avoid facing the consequences of his own actions. That is why he must seek to ingratiate himself to the powers that be such that he can be protected by “immunity”. In return for the dirty work of peddling outrageous falsehoods against those perceived as political opponents and targeted by the national security apparatus and the government, Asher receives protection from serving the rest of his existing sentence for fraud and from standing trial for murder. Lying becomes for Asher a way of life, the mode of immunity.
When Asher came to Ghana to give evidence it was in a blaze of publicity. Live television coverage of his evidence-in-chief was followed by extensive coverage in the evening news and repetitions of the full coverage after the news. Through this media saturation the public were being given an image of Asher that was false. The public heard the commendations Asher received from various members of the Commission after his testimony, creating the distinct impression that what he had said was the truth. At the time those against whom these allegations were made had not even been given notice of the appearance of Asher nor been heard in response to his allegations. The same extent of publicity that attended the testimony of Asher has not been given to the refutations of his testimony. Nor has extensive coverage been given to the now known fact –recounted by the Executive Secretary of the Commission – that Asher misled the Commission into believing that he had brought handwritten notes of Amedeka, particularly, which supported his testimony. As it was becoming clearer publicly by the time of his cross-examination that Asher had not lived up to his word Asher now sought in his answers to questions in cross-examination to distance himself from Amedeka and unwittingly admits the truth of his own inventiveness as the real source of his testimony. He sought through abusive language, insults and bluff to hide the truth that he well knows in his heart.
Yet the truth began to surface even though cross-examination was so severely curtailed by the Chairman of the Commission.
If the fraud that Asher has perpetrated on the Commission and the country continues to receive official blessing, if the self-serving falsehood that he has peddled is given any further cloak of respectability through the work of the Commission or by even by being treated as a non-issue, the clear message to the country would be that you can avoid the consequences of crime, even murder, through pacts such as Asher has evidently made with the powers- that- be and through brazenly orchestrating propaganda to cover up the naked truth about your crime.
I have stated in my evidence to the Commission that “this is not somebody whose testimony I should even have to answer in these premises.” Every single allegation he made against me is false as I have testified . It is not true that I was involved in a conspiracy to kill the judges and the army major. It is not true that I was part of a mafia that pre-December 31st 1981 met to draw up lists of people to be murdered after December 31st 1981. I did not give the names of any lecturers to be included in such a list. I did not know Akata-Pore and Jiwa, who Asher claims were also in this mafia group with me, until after December 31st 1981. I was also never involved in any discussion with the Chairman of the PNDC about someone known as “Yeye Boy” and I did not advise in any way about his murder as Asher claims.
These outrageous allegations are calculated to damage my reputation. If the platform of the Commission has been so elaborately used to enable Asher to peddle such monstrous and unfounded allegations against me, the responsibility of the Commission, which has itself been a victim of Asher's fraud, if it is interested in fairness, is now to provide redress for the wrong done to me to the maximum extent possible within the remit of the Commission.
Tsatsu Tsikata 16 August 2004
3.1. I was not at Gondar Barracks on the day after the kidnap and murder of the judges and the army officer, 1st July 1982 and therefore could not have been “around” as Mr. Justice Aikins claims. I was never anywhere in a meeting where Amartey Kwei was sent for by the PNDC Chairman and came to talk about the judges and the army officer having been murdered.
2. If there had been an occasion such as Justice Aikins describes, with me present, Amartey Kwei, whom I had occasion to cross-examine during the Special Investigation Board (SIB) hearings, would undoubtedly have brought it up in his very hostile and cheeky responses to me. Kwei also never mentioned such a meeting involving Justice Aikins and me in any of his statements during interrogations or at his trial where Justice Aikins, as Attorney-General, led the prosecution team.
3. I have had many conversations with Mr. Justice Aikins during the period of the PNDC and afterwards. I recall on a few occasions he told me about how he had undertaken the review of the SIB Report and the recommendations, particularly that on the arrest of Captain Tsikata, under considerable pressure from the Bar Association as well as from church and family circles. He had been determined to come to an independent and professional conclusion. He recalled having even told the Chairman of the PNDC that he did not want any interference in the discharge of his duty. He had set up a committee in the Attorney-General's Department which included a member of the SIB, Mr. Amui, to determine whether there was evidence on the basis of which the various persons could be prosecuted. Mr. Justice Aikins was very proud of how he had acted independently and professionally and was quite critical of the recommendations of the SIB in respect of Captain Tsikata. Never in my conversations with Mr. Justice Aikins has any reference been made to this alleged incident on 1st July 1982 which, if it happened, would surely have merited discussion afterwards. I would also have thought that if he was privy to such information involving a confession on this matter Justice Aikins would have brought it to the attention of the SIB.
I am requesting the opportunity to cross-examine Justice Aikins. Prior to that, I request that I am furnished with copies of all statements he has submitted to the Commission as well as transcripts of any evidence he has given to the Commission whether in public or in camera. I also request copies of the petition and statements as well as transcripts of evidence in connection with which Mr. Aikins has made these allegations.