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21.02.2006 Crime & Punishment

Transfer of Judges causes stir in T’di

By Chronicle
Transfer of Judges causes stir in T’di

The decision by the Chief Justice (CJ) to transfer most of the judges manning the lower courts in the Sekondi Takoradi metropolis over the past year seems to have created problems for both the police and the litigating public. The Chronicle gathered that most of the criminal cases that were being handled by the transferred judges have to start afresh since they (the judges) could not give judgement before the transfer order came. This has made the work of the prosecuting police officers very difficult since they now have to re-arrest most of the suspects and also call prosecution witnesses to start the cases all over again.

Complainants in these cases are also not happy that after attending court for several months, and in some of the cases years, they have to start all over again. Some of them who spoke to this reporter, said the CJ should have allowed the transferred judges to dispose of all the cases they were handling and due for judgement before being asked to leave.

The Chronicle gathered that on Thursday, February 2, 2006 the Takoradi Circuit Court, presided over by Mr. George K. Koomson, had to discharge Rev. Asankomah Tandoh who, together with his biological mother, Prophetess Mary Wood, have engaged in a long legal tussle over the ownership of some schools in Takoradi for want of prosecution.

The police arrested Rev. Apostle Asankomah Tandoh on July 28, 1999 and later arraigned him before court on two counts of stealing contrary to section 124(1) of the Criminal Code 1960 Act 29/60. He was accused of stealing some foreign currencies, amplifiers, valued at ¢8 million and three microphones, all belonging to Jesus of Nazareth Ministry, pastored by his mother, Prophetess Mary Wood. He pleaded not guilty to all the charges.

Chronicle gathered that in the course of the trial, as many as six prosecution witnesses were called, including the investigator, Chief Inspector Regma Botor, to testify in the case. After the prosecution had finished its submissions, counsel for the accused made a submission of no case against his client but the court overruled him and asked the accused to open his defence.

Just as the accused was about to open his defence, the then judge handling the case, Mr. Alex Owusu-Ofori, was transferred. The new judge, Mr. George Koomson, had to start all over again, but this time round the prosecution was finding it very difficult to lay hands on the witnesses, as the investigator in the case was said to be schooling outside the jurisdiction of the court.

This compelled the new judge to discharge the accused for want of prosecution.

“I do not think it is fair for the accused to be coming to court frequently when the prosecution is not ready to start their case.

Case is struck out for want of prosecution. Accused is discharged,” Mr. Koomson wrote in his ruling.

This reporter gathered that this case, among several others, seem to have angered the complainants, who had been attending court for years now.

When ASP started afresh, they had difficulty in locating the witnesses in the case. He however said Apostle Rev. Asankomah Tandoh who was discharged early this month by the court has been re-arrested to face the same charges leveled against him earlier.

He explained to the Chronicle that the complainant in the case, Prophetess Mary Wood would soon be informed about the new decision that had been taken by the prosecution for her to attend court.

The case is expected to start on Thursday, March 6, 2006.

According ASP Nyarko it was not easy going through some of these cases again but he would do the best that he could. Some of the cases are said to have stayed in the courts for well over five years but they are now going to start all over again.Nyarko who is prosecuting most of the cases was contacted he said the police could not be blamed for the discharge of the accused persons whose cases have stayed in the courts for well over five years but they are now going to start all over again.

Transferring of judges is noting new and has been a phenomenon in the administration of justice everywhere in the world.

Sometimes it stems from high incidence of complaints of corruption within certain courts and against certain judges within certain courts who have stayed too long and have created certain allegiances and bonds among the high and powerful.