Friday, October 23, 2009

Cocaine: Prosecutor flies to Equador

Saturday, October 17, 2009 (Page 3)

THE investigator in the case involving six persons charged with illegally importing 71.45 kilogrammes of cocaine into the country is in Equador to conduct further investigations.
Augustina Abu, the importer; Yaw Attah Nkansah, a clearing agent; Alfred Amedzi, the Managing Director of Sedco Agency; Kennedy Osei and Simon Bede, both directors of Sedco Agency, and Francis Addo, a driver, are being held for importing narcotic drugs suspected to be cocaine into the country and engaging in criminal conspiracy.
They have pleaded not guilty to the charges.
At the court’s sitting in Accra yesterday, the prosecutor, Ms Cynthia Lamptey, a Chief State Attorney, told the court that the investigator was off to Equador to conduct further investigations into the case and for that matter the prosecution needed a month’s adjournment.
Her plea was met with a quick rejection from defence lawyers who did not take the prosecution’s prayer kindly.
They accused the prosecution of causing an unreasonable delay in the case which, in turn, abused the rights of the accused persons.
They, therefore, prayed the court to grant their clients bail.
However, the court was of the view that there had not been any unreasonable delay in the case.
The trial judge, Mr Justice C. J. Honyenugah, an Appeal Court judge sitting with additional responsibility as a High Court judge, said the accused persons had been in custody for five months and the court did not consider that as a delay.
He also reminded the defence lawyers to be mindful of the fact that the law did not allow bail to be granted to persons charged on narcotic offences.
The court, therefore, maintained its position of not granting bail to the accused persons.
Mr Justice Honyenugah also directed the prosecution to furnish the court with evidence of the investigator’s travel to ensure fairness.
The matter was adjourned to November 16, 2009.
The accused persons had earlier been put before Mrs Justice Irismay Brown, a Court of Appeal judge, who admitted them to bail.
However, the prosecution filed a nolle prosequi, re-arrested the accused persons and later put them before Mr Justice Honyenugah.
The facts of the case are that on May 15, this year, the M/V Maersk Nolanville docked at the Tema Port with containers from Ecuador, Panama and Spain.
The prosecution said among the containers was one with number MSAU0118160 manifested to contain 1,880 cartons of chewing gum imported by Ms Abu of Augustina Abu Enterprise.
The prosecutor said personnel of the Joint Port Control Unit (JPCU), made up officers from the Narcotics Control Board, the Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS), the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI), the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) and the Police Service tagged the said container, which meant that it could only be opened by JPCU officers.
About 3:30 p.m. on May 19, the container was scanned and the image disclosed that it contained some other objects in addition to its official cargo.
During a thorough examination, two bags containing 61 slabs of a whitish substance suspected to be cocaine were found among the cartons of chewing gum.
A test of the substance indicated that it was cocaine.

No comments: