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09.03.2006 General News

Court Puts Reporters On the Spot

By Ghanaian Chronicle

Reporters who went to cover the court case of Joseph Vorsah, who was accused of allegedly assaulting a police officer during the sixth national delegates congress of the NDC last year, were put on the spot at the court's sitting on Tuesday, for reporting inaccurately on the court's proceedings of February 20.

This was when counsel for the accused, Mr. D.K. Nyanudor, drew the court's attention to a publication in the Daily Graphic of February 25, 2005, which was headlined, "Court adjourns assault case against NDC activist".

Counsel was particularly not happy with the headline which, he said, sought to portray his client as an NDC activist, saying that it has not been established which political party his client belongs to and asked the reporters to stop referring to the accused as an activist of the NDC.

He was also not happy that the registration number of the police vehicle that got damaged and which was in dispute at the time of the last adjourned date was the one published.

"The actual registration number of the vehicle was in dispute that day but the reporter chose to published GP 851 and not GP 801 which was taken by the court," he noted, adding that journalists should seek clearance from court officials before reporting on proceedings.

The prosecutor on the case, ASP Theophilus K. Nyadu, asked counsel whether journalists canbe present at sittings but not take notes and wait till proceedings are over before taking their information from the court record books, counsel replied that journalists can take down notes during proceedings but they should ensure that their facts are accurate.

ASP Nyadu therefore advised the reporters present to always crosscheck their information from the court record book in order not to misrepresent proceedings of the court. To this, the presiding judge, Justice V.G.K. Ayimieh, gave his support.

The second witness in the case, Police Constable Francis Nyarko, in his evidence, told the circuit court that on the evening of December 22 last year, he was on mobile police patrol at Asokore, near Koforidua, when he had the signal that he should report at the Eredec hotel.

On arrival at the hotel, he was told by one Supt. Madam Peace that a certain woman (Frances Assiam) was being beaten in the auditorium and asked him to assist the police on duty to take her to the Regional Police Headquarters.

He said after Ms. Assiam was brought out of the hotel, the mob outside wanted to attack her but they managed to put her into a police vehicle with registration number GP 1194. It was then that the accused forced himself into the vehicle and attempted to beat Ms. Assiam but the police pulled him out of the vehicle.

Accused who was not happy at the action of the police started raining insults on them and Chief Supt. Gyempe asked the accused to stop what he was doing, but accused rushed on him and got hold of his shirt in an attempt to beat him up.

Witness said accused was then arrested and put in a police vehicle with registration number GP 851.

While he was being driven away the mob formed a human barrier thus blocking the vehicle and demanded that the police release the accused.

He said he forced his way and drove away but the mob threw stones at the vehicle causing damage to the back and front windscreen.

Under cross-examination by counsel, witness maintained that accused was the very person who got hold of the police commander's uniform.

"The accused person was arrested because he held the commander's uniform and attempted to beat him," he told the court.

The case would continue on March 13.

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