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03.06.2005 Crime & Punishment

Ata Ayi Sues Senior cops

Ata Ayi Sues Senior cops

Accra, June 3, GNA - Leading counsel for Aryee Aryeetey, alias Ata Ayi, standing trial for series of robberies, has filed an order for contempt against the Ghana Police Service and two Senior Police Officers for making "derogatory and damaging comments" about his client. The two Police Officers are Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Kofi Boakye, Former Greater Accra Regional Police Commander and Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) David Eklu of the Police Public Relations Unit.

In a motion with supporting affidavit, Mr Johnny Hanson, Leading Counsel for Ata Ayi, prayed the Court to warn the Police Service of the need to be circumspect and reticent in publicly commenting on the merit of the commission by Ata Ayi, whether directly or indirectly. It said several statements had been made earlier and during the trial describing the Ata Ayi as a hardened criminal and armed robber. These damaging statements, Counsel said, had been couched and presented to the print and electronic Media as well as on the Internet.

"This is the function of the Judge to determine before this Court and by law the accused is innocent until proven guilty." Defence Counsel said it was the function of the Judge to determine the guilt or innocence and any comment or verdict constitutes a "usurpation of the function of the Courts and the Judge in particular".

He noted that during the handing over of authority by ACP Boakye to his successor, he "wilfully and carelessly" made remarks about the accused.

"Mr Hansen said in compounding and complicating the contempt, on Tuesday May 31, the Daily Graphic further carried in its banner headline "Police make another major break."

Counsel stated that DSP Eklu in an entirely separate arrest of an alleged robber, Nargai Tetteh, referred and linked this suspect to his client by saying that Ata Ayi was the one who introduced Nargai to robbery.

Mr Hansen, therefore, prayed the Court that "the respondents should be held for contempt of Court in order to serve as deterrent to others despite the Court warning to the Media to desist from that".

The motion was adjourned to June 8 for hearing.

The Court noted that the Attorney General's Department had just been served and was not aware whether the rest of the respondents had also been served.

In the first case, Ataa Ayi is standing trial at an Accra Fast Track high Court for two robbery cases at Dzorwulu and Taifa in Accra three years ago.

Ata Ayi and two of his accomplices, namely Roger Kiblah Agbodoga, Raymond Ameh, Samuel Kweku Annan, are being held for robbing a firm of 70 million cedis.

The four, who are jointly charged with conspiracy and robbery, pleaded not guilty.

The Court presided over Mr Justice Baffoe Bonney refused them bail and remanded them in custody.

In the second case Ata Ayi and eight others appeared at the same Court for robbing a businesswoman of 65,000 dollars and 45 million cedis at Taifa Junction on February 5, 2003.

The accomplices include Nana Yaw Owusu, Yaw Asante Agyekum, Stephen Nyarko, Frederick Lamptey Annan, alias Nunnboe and Kwabla Agbodoga. The others are Samuel Kweku Annan, Raymond Ameh and Nana Osei Razak.

They have all pleaded not guilty to conspiracy and robbery.