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10.06.2005 Crime & Punishment

Ataa Ayi's Lawyer withdraws contempt motion

Ataa Ayi's Lawyer withdraws contempt motion

Accra, June 10, GNA - A Defence Counsel for Aryee Aryeetey, alias Ataa Ayi, standing trial for a number of robberies, on Friday withdrew an order for contempt against the Ghana Police Service and two Senior Police Officers

The Defence Counsel had cited 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, for contempt alleging that they had made "derogatory and damaging comments" about Ataa Ayi.

At Fast Track High Court on Friday, Mr David Annan, the Counsel for Ataa Ayi, said due to some developments he had been instructed by his senior colleague to withdraw the motion "Due to some new developments we are being mindful to withdraw the motion," he said. Defence Counsel said they had earlier made strenuous efforts to serve ACP Boakye to appear in Court but had not been able to do that. He commended DSP Eklu for appearing in Court.

The Prosecution announced to the Court that Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Benjamin Osei Addai was representing the Ghana Police Service. The Prosecution said: "We accept the withdrawal and the two who are Senior Police Officers are mindful of the injunction restraining them from commenting on matters pending before the courts. They will not do anything to mar the due process of law."

The Prosecution said press release issued did not exactly represent what was published. The Court cautioned the Media against imbalance reportage. Earlier, in a motion with supporting affidavit, Mr Johnny Hanson, Leading Counsel for Ataa 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 Ataa Ayi, whether directly or indirectly.

It said several statements had been made earlier and during the trial describing the Ataa 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 a 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 Ataa Ayi was the one who introduced Nargai to robbery. Ataa Ayi is at the moment fighting two cases in the courts. He is standing trial at an Accra Fast Track High Court for two robbery cases at Dzorwulu and Taifa in Accra three years ago. Ataa 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 has refused them bail and remanded them in custody. In the second case Ataa 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 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.