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29.04.2006 General News

Lawyers, police clash in court


Four persons who allegedly led a group of demonstrators through the principal streets of Winneba, have appeared before a Swedru Circuit Court.

Thee demonstrators, were to present their petition on development at Winneba to Mr Solomon Abbam Quaye, District Chief Executive (DCE) for Awutu-Effutu-Senya to be sent to President J. A Kufuor. They are Nana Ekow Bortse, a retired Police Officer, Yakubu Barry, Assemblyman, Albert Sam and Michael Nyakoh both businessmen.

Mr Amoh-Yartey, Counsel for the accused persons told the Court presided over by Mr Charles Adjei Wilson, that the facts of the case presented by Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) Raymond Martey, head of prosecution at the Swedru Divisional Police Headquarters were false and a calculated attempt to infringe on the rights of his clients. The Counsel said the Police violated Public Order Act 491, of 1994, which mandated people to hold demonstration and other public events. He said one of the clients; Nana Bortse was summoned through his son, which was not proper since he had to be served personally. Mr Amoh-Yartey said his clients had not done any thing wrong because they served Police notice to hold the public event and so there was no need for a court action to be instituted against them. Mr Wiafe-Darko, Legal Practitioner and former MP for Akwapim South and Mr Frempong-Armah, a Swedru-based lawyer could not hide their feelings and challenged accused the Police for wrongfully arraigning the four before the court.

He told the court that the Police had violated the Public Order Act because the leaders of the demonstrators notified them and should have written asking them to stop their planned event.

Mr Wiafe-Darko said the accused had the right to demonstrate since they only wanted to petition the President about the development of Winneba, which was their constitutional right. Mr Frempong-Armah described the action of the Police "as bullying, intimidating and threatening" and cautioned the service personnel to desist from dabbling in chieftaincy affairs, which could lead to violence.

He said it was unfair for the police to prevent leaders of the demonstrators who were on a peaceful demonstration to present their petition through the DCE.

When the Presiding Judge asked Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Gasu to brief the court whether the four notified the Service, he replied that there was no notice to the Police and this generated heated argument between him and the lawyers. For peace and stability to prevail at Winneba, the court granted them bail in the sum of five million cedis each with two sureties. The prosecution had told the court that the accused led a group of people on the 18th of April 2006, to demonstrate through the principal streets of Winneba to present their petition through the DCE to the President.

DSP Martey said the Police resisted the attempt by the leaders of the demonstrators who were carrying placards, singing war songs and dancing, marched to the premises of the District Assembly.