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22.01.2005 Crime & Punishment

Visa "contractor" remanded

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Aflao, Jan. 22, GNA - George Owusu Freeman, 35, who allegedly tricked a Police Officer to part with amounts totalling 54.3 million cedis for a visa to travel overseas was on Wednesday remanded by a circuit court at Aflao.

Freeman who claimed to be a trader, dealing in cars and visas, pleaded not guilty and will be brought before the court again on January 26.

Mr Kofi Frimpong, Chief Inspector of Police told the court presided over by Mr Godwin Kwasi-Kumah that sometime in 1999, Lance Corporal Stephen Salamu, a Police Officer based at Aflao discussed his plans to travel abroad with one Mr Albert Owusu, a friend.

He said Mr Owusu introduced Mr Salamu to Freeman who expressed readiness to help him secure a visa for a fee of 1.5 CFA francs. Mr Frimpong said Mr Salamu paid 1 million CFA francs to Freeman in November 1999 with a promise to pay the balance later.

He said Freeman also collected four passport-size photographs of Mr Salamu in order to secure a Burkinabe passport for him.

Mr Frimpong said Freeman later informed Mr Salamu of his plans to also travel abroad and therefore asked him (Salamu) to meet him (Freeman) in Ouagadougou in Burkina Faso from where he could fly to an undisclosed European country.

He said Mr Salamu, accompanied by Mr Owusu, the friend who introduced him to Freeman, travelled to Ouagadougou but could not locate Freeman.

Mr Frimpong said Freeman called Mr Salamu on his cell phone directing him to see a Clearing Agent in Ouagadougou for his papers but the Agent denied knowledge of any arrangements between him and Freeman. He said a year later Mr Salamu chanced upon Freeman in Lome, Togo and confronted him but Freeman pleaded for restraint, explaining that he could not meet him in Burkina Faso because he lost his passport. Mr Frimpong said Freeman then convinced Mr Salamu to part with his Ghanaian passport and 400,000 CFA francs to enable him (Freeman) secure new documents for him to achieve his dream.

The Prosecution said Freeman later collected extra 500,000 CFA francs on September 28 and another 600,000 CFA francs on December 11, all in 2000, to facilitate the deal.

He said at a later date Freeman again prevailed upon Mr Salamu to give him another 520,000 CFA francs for him (Freeman) to travel abroad and then arrange for him (Salamu) to join him later. Mr Frimpong said this brought the total money Freeman collected from Mr Salamu to 3,020,000 million CFA francs or 54,360,000 cedis. He said Mr Salamu changed his mind on the last agreement and was able to retrieve the 520,000 CFA francs he paid to Freeman. Mr Frimpong said Freeman thereafter went into hiding but was arrested at Kpando in January this year, upon a tip-off.

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