21.01.2005 Crime & Punishment

Lawyers save colleague from going to jail for contempt

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Accra, Jan. 21, GNA - The intervention of a team of Lawyers, including Mr Mr Solomon Kwame Tetteh, President of the Ghana Bar Association (GBA), and Mr Charles Zwennes Snr on Friday saved Mr Charles Zwennes Jnr from serving a one-week imprisonment after an Accra Fast High Court cited him for contempt.

The team of Lawyers apologised to the Court, which rescinded its decision and discharged the committal warrant issued for the imprisonment of Mr Zwennes Jnr., who is representing Multi Media Broadcasting in a case of defamation brought by Masai Developers.

The Curt after listening to the plea of Mr Tetteh and Mr Zwennes Snr. rescinded its decision and discharged the committal warrant issued for Zwennes Jnr's incarceration.

Mr Zwennes Jnr. also apologized for his conduct saying: "I wish to apologise for displeasing the Court. This would not happen again." Mr Zwennes Jnr. was said to have written to the Court complaining about a date fixed for the case of defamation involving Masai Developers and Multi Media Broadcasting at its last sitting on December 24, 2004. He complained about the Court's inability to consult his junior colleague, who had held his brief in Court before fixing a date for the case to be continued.

At Friday's sitting, the trial judge Mrs Avril Anin-Yeboah asked the junior colleague of Mr Zwennes Jnr to enter the box for the Court to ascertain from her what transpired at the last sitting.

The Judge also asked Mr Zwennes Jnr. whether he had any questions for his Junior Colleague but he replied in the negative.

Soon after the Court asked Ms Johanna Awoshie, who was on the side of the plaintiff, about what had transpired at the previous sitting. The Court then asked Mr Zwennes Jnr. to mount the box to answer questions pertaining to the letter he had written.

While answering the questions, the Court at a point asked him to stop and be quiet but he declined. This brought about disruption of the Court proceedings.

Some Lawyers, who were at the Court, asked Mr Zwennes Jnr. to apologise to the Court but he declined. The Court then cited him for contempt and committed him to a week's imprisonment.

A Policeman escorted Mr Zwennes Jnr to the Court's cells to embark on his journey to jail.

However, when news of his son's committal to jail got to Mr Zwennes Snr., he came to the Court. The Court reconvened and Mr Zwennes Snr. rendered an apology to the Court.

Mr Zwennes Snr. told the Court that he was not in favour of his son's behaviour and was there to render an apology to the Court on his own behalf and that of his son.

He pleaded with the Court to review the order and to rescind its decision.

According to him, the Court could have warned Mr Zwennes Jnr. about his conduct.

Mr Tetteh had told Mr Zwennes Jnr. That he had made an application to the Court praying it to rescind its decision and he should apologise.

The trial Judge Mrs Anim-Yeboah said for the Court to cite him for contempt showed the extent to which it was pushed. According to the Judge if the incident had occurred outside the Court premises, she would not have heeded it.

"As I sit here, I represent the Chief Justice and it is my duty to uphold the dignity and respect of the Judiciary and Administration of the Court. After the incident, I saw several Lawyers asking him to apologize to the Court but he declined."

The Trial Judge said she indicated her readiness to accept Mr Zwennes Snr.'s apology in open Court adding that was not the first time an incident of that sort had happened.

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