A Kumasi Circuit Court, presided over by Patricia Amponsah, yesterday discharged the accused persons because of lack of evidence to prosecute them.
The action has caused furore, with the minority National Democratic Congress (NDC) accusing the government of deliberately freeing the accused.
However, the Attorney General has stated that she is averse to the decision of the state attorney in Kumasi to free the suspects.
The 13 – all members of the Delta Force – a vigilante group linked to the ruling New Patriotic Party (NPP), were standing trial for allegedly assaulting George Adjei, the Ashanti Regional Security Liaison Officer, whose appointment they opposed. They allegedly dragged him from his office.
The KMA court had remanded them into prison custody but before the security agents could take them away, eight people caused a stir by storming the courtroom to set them free.
On that same day, the Ashanti Regional Police Command managed to arrest some people at Asafo, a suburb of Kumasi, who were believed to be members of the Delta Force who set the 13 free.
They were then charged for causing disturbances in court, resisting arrest and rescuing persons in lawful custody. The eight persons were remanded and later granted bail by the court.
During yesterday’s sitting, the prosecutor, ACP Okyere Darko, noted that the police, after investigations, could not find evidence to support the charges, which were leveled against the eight people.
The court was therefore left with no other option than to discharge the accused persons, who looked sober throughout the duration of the happenings.
After going through the docket, Marie Louise-Simmons, the Senior State Attorney, standing in for the Chief State Attorney wrote, “I therefore advise that the charges of disturbance of court and resisting arrest & rescue against the suspects must be dropped for lack of evidence to prosecute.”
The statement indicated, “From the docket, the incident occurred inside the KMA Circuit Court Room. The evidence suggests that it was a very busy Court that day. However, only two policemen being the CWO [Court Warrant Officer] in the Court were made to volunteer witness statements.
“The complainant [G/SGT Asagre Albert and G/SGT. Evans Kugbeadzor] , volunteered a statement; however, his statement does not suggest that he was a witness to the incident.
“The statement of the two policemen clearly indicates that they could not identify any of the persons that forcibly entered the court room that day in disregard of the judge’s orders and aided the escape. Sgt. Asagre stated clearly that he could not identify any of the said criminals.
“Sgt. Evans Kugbeadzor also stated that his attention was on the safety of the judge and after ushering the judge into her chambers, he returned and realized that all the 13 accused persons and their supporters had left the court.
“It is therefore difficult to ascertain how and on what basis these suspects were arrested. There is no indication from the diary of action that the police got any confidential information about the identity of the actual person that aided the escape.
“Again, after the arrest of the suspects, there is no indication that any identification parade was conducted for any of the possible witnesses to have identified any of the suspects.
“All the suspects have also denied in their statements that they committed any offence. In fact, none of them admitted that they entered the court room that day, though some of them admitted being outside the court room that day.
“It is a basic principle in criminal prosecution that there can be no better identification of an accused than the evidence of a witness who swears to have seen the accused committing the offence.
“As it stands now, there was not even a single witness who can aid the prosecution to identify any of the suspects. There is also no other piece of evidence that links any of the suspects to the offence they have been charged with.
“Despite the unfortunate and despicable incident that occurred and the manner in which it occurred, the investigations conducted and the evidence available makes it extremely impossible to successfully prosecute any of the suspects herein”.
There were wild jubilations at the court premises as scores of people, mostly friends and loved ones of the eight accused persons, who trooped to the court premises, were seen hugging the accused persons.
Counsel for the accused persons, Mathew Appiah, stated that they had continually said their clients were innocent and that the verdict of the court had indeed vindicated them.
FROM I.F. Joe Awuah Jnr., Kumasi