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03.06.2005 Crime & Punishment

Court dismisses application of Ata Ayi's Counsel

GNA

Accra, June 3, GNA - An Accra Fast Track High Court hearing the case of Aryee Aryeetey, alias Ata Ayi, an alleged armed robber, on Friday dismissed an application filed by his Counsel to compel the Prosecution to furnish them with documents and facilities to conduct their case.

The Court describing the application as being misconstrued noted that there was no provision in the Criminal Code and Constitution that enjoined the Prosecution to furnish them with documents and facilities to conduct their case.

It held the view that the Prosecution's decision to furnish the Defence with statements of the accused and other documents was discretional.

The Court noted that the Defence, by asking the Prosecution to furnish them with statement of the accused persons, statement of the Complainant and Prosecution Witnesses and the list of documents to be tendered in the trial, was demanding too much.

Arguing out the motion in support of an affidavit earlier, Mr David Annan and Mr Joseph Akyeampong prayed the Court to order the Prosecution to furnish them with the summary evidence or other particulars as the Court might deem fit to enable them to put up their defence.

Quoting the Constitution to buttress their case, Defence Counsel emphasized that the accused should be given "adequate time and facilities for the preparation of his defence and be informed immediately and in detail about the nature of the offence charged". Counsel said the Prosecution was holding the documents to its chest and was bound to spring surprises on them during the trial. Counsel said they needed to examine most of the documents so that both the Prosecution and Defence would have a level playing field.

"We want the Court to order the Prosecution to supply the Defence with all the information necessary to the nature of offence charged, particularly the statement of the accused person and co-accused persons, statement of the Complainant and Prosecution Witnesses and the list of documents to be tendered in the trial."

The Defence said the accused persons had been charged with robbery, a first-degree felony that carried a maximum sentence of life imprisonment, hence the need for the Prosecution to give them all the needed documents to conduct their defence.

The Defence questioned why the Prosecution decided to conduct a summary trial instead of trial by indictment. A Judge conducts a summary trial alone or with the assistance of assessors, whose influence on the judgement is minimal, while a Jury assisted by a Judge conducts trial by indictment.

The Prosecution vehemently opposed the motion saying the Defence needed not to make those submissions in a summary trial.

The Prosecution said the submission could only be made in trial by indictment.

The Prosecution said it had not come across any law that sought to compel them to provide statements of witnesses to the Defence. However, the Prosecution said, the statements of the accused could be given to the Defence.

The Prosecution said it had clearly stated the particulars of offence and made known the nature of the offences.

This, the Prosecution said, had been read out and explained to the accused persons, who had pleaded not guilty.

Ata Ayi is standing trial with three others for conspiring and robbing a firm of 70 million cedis at Dzorwulu in Accra.

Ata Ayi and his alleged accomplices, Roger Koblah, Agbodoga, Raymond Ameh and Samuel Kweku Annan, have pleaded not guilty and are currently on remand.

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 in Accra on February 5, 2003.

The alleged 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.

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