Anas' 'Cocoa Smugglers' Freed
The 14 security officials who were at the centre of the alleged cocoa smuggling from the Western Region of the country to Cote d'Ivoire, have for the second time, been discharged for 'want of prosecution'. The 14 men who are from the Customs, Excise Preventive Service, the Ghana Police Service, and the Immigration Service were arrested for prosecution in April, last year, following undercover investigations by an ace investigative journalist, Anas Aremeyaw Anas, last year. But on June 28, 2010, they were freed by an Accra Circuit Court presided over by Mrs. Patience Mills Tetteh for want of prosecution. This was after the prosecution failed to turn up in court, after three consecutive adjournments at their instance. They were, however, re-arrested later by the police, and on July 13, 2010, arraigned on fresh charges of conspiracy to commit crime and attempted smuggling at another Circuit Court presided over by Mrs. Adjoa Coleman. However, five months into their arraignment, nothing has been done as the case had suffered several adjournments until the judge began her annual leave from August to October 2010. When the case came up for hearing on Tuesday, the prosecution led by Principal State Attorney, Rexford Owiredu, failed to show up in court without any excuse or notice, neither was he represented. In November, the prosecution told the court that it intended to call its first witness in the person of Anas and, therefore, prayed the court to grant them an in-camera hearing for security reasons. The court in view of the submission directed the prosecution to file a motion to that effect but as at Tuesday when the accused persons were discharged, the prosecution had not filed that motion. This prompted counsel for the accused led by Raymond Bagnabu, to pray the court to discharge his clients as a result of what he termed the inability and lack of desire by the prosecution to start the case. The defence team also argued that adjourning the matter would only glorify the impunity and disrespect shown by the prosecution. The court then upheld the argument and accordingly discharged the accused persons but said the prosecution could bring them back whenever it was ready to prosecute case. The accused persons are Gabriel Dimado, William Festus Yawson, Steven Sowah, Prosper Edze, Nii Armah Adolf, James Dzamesi, Rockson Eric Appeadu and Paul Dzamesi, all CEPS collection assistants. Others are Police constables Isaac Kwaku Asare Darko, Samuel Kwasi Ekpeagba, and J.K. Boakye. The rest are from the Immigration Service, Mate-Korle, Frederick Kofiabley, and Kofi Aboagye. Until their discharge on Tuesday, each of them was on GH¢20,000 with two sureties. It is the prosecution's case that Anas had information that some security officers at the Western frontier of the Ghana-Cote d'Ivoire border were compromising their work by assisting people to smuggle dried cocoa beans to the former country. According to the prosecution, the officers did so upon receipt of monetary consideration. Following the information, Anas conducted initial investigations into the matter which the prosecution claimed was captured on video which was later referred to the police for further investigations.
Source: Ghanaian Times