Friday, December 11, 2009 (Page 3 Lead)
THE two soldiers who have been accused of murdering the Northern Regional Chairman of the Convention People’s Party (CPP), Alhaji Issa Mobilla, have requested for a full list of the potential jurors who would be selected to decide their fate.
According to counsel for the accused persons, Mr Thaddeus Sory, Sections 246 and 252 of the Criminal Procedure Code and Article 33 (5) of the 1992 Constitution enjoined the registrar of the court to allow his clients to have access to the full names and particulars of the potential jurors in the case for scrutiny.
Counsel submitted that his clients had the right to challenge the eligibility or otherwise of a juror, adding that his clients could only do that if they had access to the names and particulars of the potential jurors.
A Chief State Attorney, Mr Edward Agyemang-Duodu, however, vehemently opposed the application and stated that the accused persons had the right to challenge the jurors during empanelling.
He added that jurors could only be disqualified on the basis of their criminal records, potential to be prejudicial, partiality, blindness and inability to understand the English language, among others.
The Chief State Attorney said supplying the names of the jurors to the defence team had the tendency for having the jurors influenced, intimidated as well have their security threatened.
Later, Ms Penelope Mamattah, a Chief State Attorney, moved a motion to have the jury confined throughout the trial on the grounds that the case had received media hype, resulting in generation of controversy and public debate.
She said the state also feared for the safety of the jurors and explained that the case had to be transferred from Tamale to Accra because of tension.
According to her, there was the likelihood that the jury might be prejudiced by media publications and public opinion, if they were not confined until the end of the trial.
She further disagreed with an assertion from defence counsel that the motion was premature and speculative, and added that there was no guarantee that there would not be any eventuality in the course of the trial.
Opposing the application, Mr Sory said the motion had no legal foundation, because the prosecution had failed to quote from which aspects of the Criminal Procedure Code gave room to the confinement of jurors in a murder trial.
He said in any case the prosecution had failed to demonstrate that there was indeed any threat in Accra, especially when the prosecution had earlier indicated that the matter was transferred from Tamale to Accra for security reasons.
Counsel further argued that media publication on the matter had gone on for long and indicated that it was rather the accused persons and not the prosecution who had complained about the actions of some media houses.
Mr Sory stated that the court could order the media to publish only court proceedings on the matter and further described the prosecution’s application as “completely dangerous”.
The court, presided over by Mr Justice Senyo Dzamefe, fixed December 17, 2009 for ruling on the two motions.