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13.06.2019 Feature Article

The Underground Man - Part 11

The Underground Man - Part 11
JUN 13, 2019 FEATURE ARTICLE

„Why? “

„I came to German illegally, have no papers. A connection man brought me here and it was costing me ten thousand Euros. I work illegally on the legal papers of someone else…in a restaurant. My salary goes to him. He takes his share before he gives me my part of my salary. He keeps all the social benefits for pension and unemployment cover…even health insurance. For me…nothing. I have no health insurance when I am sick…I cannot become sick at all…no money to see any doctor. When people from home call me I advise them to stay where they are, start something small and grow over time. That is much, much better than the life I live here. I feel like I am in prison even I walk around. My spirit is blocked…I need to work like a machine never resting and I can be attacked at any time by anybody. I am not safe…not free. People in the streets see me but do not know my story. I am trapped. When I go back, still I have to pay my heavy debts…and I know in Ghana to find a job to pay all that money back…how possible? I am trapped. I am worse off than before. People in Africa do not realize how difficult it is to make it in the White Man`s society. “He looked nervously around and continued: „I have to be invisible…but I am a human being with feelings, hopes and dreams. All I can say…I am betrayed…we are betrayed. “

Anna asked him to explain what he meant by saying `betrayed` more precise.

„We should look at the White Man only to learn from him very well, observe his strategy, avoid his failures and built our future on his weaknesses. When we Africans have a straight, honest and clear mind free from family issues and bondage, it is us to turn the weakness into our destiny…in glory.“

„Big words“, was Anna not quiet understanding the truth behind the words spoken.

„MY advice to all my people is not to copy White People but to be better than them and only to come here with real papers…otherwise to hustle back home and make it by time.“

Joe saw two police officers in uniform on patrol. With eagle eyes they overlooked the crowd before them, scanning intensively all faces, movements and behaviors that could give them an indication for intervention. Nervously was Joe wishing Anna a blessed day and took off in the opposite direction.

They were all excited. Criminal Court at Sievekingsplatz in the heart of Hamburg, an old sandstone building dating back over hundred years ago, made them feel insecure. The quiet atmosphere of staff members, judges, lawyers, police officers bringing and taking prisoners before court, were all making the students feel small. Even their teacher, Hans-Georg Friese had prepared them for the rules of German court system in advance. To stand in the corridors of justice with real people and sentencing procedures, was not they could have even imagined. The dull smell of freshly waxed grey tiled floors gave the impression to walk on sacred soil. Generation after generation of defendants had walked down the endless corridors to hear their cases and to know their judgments.

They were sitting in a small court room. Anna had to sit next to Erika and Rita on an old, light brown simple shaped bench, one close to each other. Not for a little moment did anyone of the students dare to make a joke or misbehave. Their minds were disciplined and focused. Tension filled the air. Anna`s eyes were watching any movement of the state prosecutor and lawyer across on the other side. She looked up to the yellowish long, straight designed Neon lamps seen often on the ceilings in government buildings. The door got pushed open. Handcraft a man in his late forties entered the court room. Behind him grim looking police officers were watching over him. The solitaire chair at the small, square shaped table below the bench of the judge was the place for him to be judged. Minutes later Threw the door in the wall facing Anna`s class an old judge, short, grey hair close to boldness, round face, serious looks, entered the scene asking all in the room to take their seats again. The prosecutor read out the court indictment. The defendant convicted to jail in the past was alleged to have stolen electric items from his last employer by climbing through the glass top of the company building. Cigarette remains were found at the scene of the kind the defendant preferred to smoke. A forensic expert was questioned to give evidence but was unable to link the crime scene to the defendant. Lawyer and prosecutor pleaded for not guilty judgment due to lack of evidence. The judge went back to his office.

„The case is clear. The case will be dismissed and the poor man will walk out that door as a free man“, lectured Hans-Georg Friese his class. They all looked up to him for the right explanation.

Lawyer and prosecutor alike looked into their pile of papers before them ignoring the young onlookers. Anna was sneezing; Alexa looked around being not very interested in the whole proceedings. Rita and Erika were giggling and gossiping about the short trousers of the lawyer and old shoes of the prosecutor. They tried to hide their comments behind their hands put before their mouths.

„The court finds the defendant guilty and send him to prison for a period of two years! “read the judge out five minutes after he had left the room and come back. His job was done, he left again while the defendant was executed back to prison.

Anna was stund, opened her eyes wide and asked: „No evidence and he got years behind bars? How is that possible? “

Hans-Georg Friese was surprised himself: „A typical case that will go into appeal trail and revised on a higher level finally…I guess! “

„Until then…“, tried Anna to clear her mind and understand what just had happened, „the man will be in prison for months without a proof that he did what people allege…and the judge walks for free?“

„Many people that sit in prison are there not because of a crime, but because of judges or juries say so…and all these people walk for free. Only later the society pays a financial compensation for the time imprisoned wrongly“, was Hans-Georg Friese trying to explain.

„But…but that has nothing…absolutely nothing to do with justice. A judge cannot do as he pleases and when he makes a mistake, just walks away for free while well all ordinary people when making a mistake, feel the punishment for it.“

„Judges must be independent to do their job well. “

„Independent does not mean, Sir that they can take the law into their own hands and judge accordingly to how they see the law“, got Anna angry more and more. „Pilots undergo check-ups always, doctors when done harm have to pay money personally and each employee is constantly monitored…of their work. But a judge, once in his position…how to remove him as a judge? No, Sir, I do not accept that. Surely there must be a way to check the quality of a judge and at the same time make him an independent one. “

…to be continued

Karl-Heinz Heerde
Karl-Heinz Heerde, © 2019

This author has authored 304 publications on Modern Ghana. Author column: KarlHeinzHeerde

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