Monday, November 30, 2009

Tema Cocaine case: Court gives ultimatum to prosecutors

Thursday, November 26, 2009 (Page 48/49)

THE Accra Fast Track High Court yesterday gave the prosecution in the 71.45 kilogrammes Tema cocaine case a 24-hour ultimatum to start prosecuting the case or have its case closed.
The trial judge issued the ultimatum after the prosecutor in the case had indicated in a letter that he was unable to report in court because he was attending a training programme which began on Tuesday and was expected to end yesterday.
The prosecutor then prayed the court to adjourn the matter to Thursday, December 3, 2009 but the court asked whether the prosecution was trying to dictate to it.
Mr Justice Samuel Marful-Sau said the prosecutor should have informed the court earlier about his inability to attend court, and further indicated that the court would have no option than to allow the alleged importer of the cocaine, Augustina Abu, to open her defence.
Augustina has been charged with importing narcotic drugs without lawful authority andbut she has denied any wrongdoing.
Meanwhile, the court had discharged five persons who were standing trial with Augustina early last week, after they had been in custody for six months.
The court discharged the five after the prosecution had informed it that there was no evidence to warrant their prosecution.
The discharged persons are 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.
The investigator in the case travelled to Ecuador last month to conduct further investigations and upon his return it became clear that there was not enough evidence to prosecute the five.
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.

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