Thursday, December 17, 2009 (Page 3 Lead)
THE Accra Fast Track High Court will, on December 23, 2009, decide the fate of Augustina Abu, who is accused of importing 71.45 kilogrammes of cocaine into the country.
Augustina has been charged with importing a narcotic drug without lawful authority but she has denied any wrongdoing.
The presiding judge, Mr Justice Samuel Marful-Sau, fixed the date at the court's sitting in Accra yesterday after he had announced that the prosecution and the defence team had submitted their written addresses.
The prosecution called nine witnesses in the trial which lasted a month.
Augustina opened her defence, denied any wrongdoing and stated that she never travelled to Ecuador, the country from where the cocaine was allegedly exported, or any other country from where the vessel containing the alleged cocaine was said to have travelled.
She said she had been an importer for the past 25 years and had, on all occasions, done her business via the Internet.
According to her, she normally ordered goods through the Internet and made payments through money transfers at the bank.
Augustina, who has been in custody since May 2009, produced documents to prove her claims.
The investigator in the case travelled to Ecuador in October 2009 to conduct further investigations and upon his return it became clear that there was not enough evidence to prosecute five persons who had initially been charged with Augustina.
The five, who were discharged a month ago after they had been in custody for six months, 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 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 of officers from the Narcotic 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.