January 22, 2010 (Page 3 Lead)
THE two soldiers accused of murdering the Northern Regional Chairman of the Convention People’s Party (CPP), Alhaji Issa Mobilla, have appealed against the Fast Track High Court’s refusal to allow them to have access to the full list of the potential jurors who will be selected to decide their fate.
Corporal Yaw Appiah and Private Eric Modzaka have also filed a motion for stay of proceedings in the criminal trial instituted against them by the State.
The Accra Fast Track High Court had, on December 17, 2009, refused a request by the two soldiers to have access to the full list of jurors on the grounds that their request, if granted, had the potential of influencing or intimidating the potential jurors.
The court also reminded the accused persons that they had the right to challenge the jurors after they had been empanelled and were about to be sworn in.
At the court’s sitting in Accra yesterday, counsel for the soldiers, Mr Thaddeus Sory, told the court that the fundamental human rights of the accused persons would be negatively affected if the jurors were selected and empanelled before the Court of Appeal sat on his clients’ appeal.
He, therefore, prayed the court to adjourn the matter to enable his clients to pursue the appeal, but the court indicated that it did not have a copy of the motion for stay of proceedings, to which counsel furnished the court with a copy.
Responding to defence counsel’s submissions, a Chief State Attorney, Mr Edward Agyemang-Duodu, indicated that his outfit had received copies of the motions but stated that no date had been fixed for hearing, adding that such a situation could delay the criminal case against the soldiers.
The court, presided over by Mr Justice Senyo Dzamefe, stood the case down for a few minutes to enable Mr Sory to get a date from the registrar of the Court of Appeal.
Mr Sory returned in less than 30 minutes and informed the court that the Court of Appeal would be sitting between February 1 and 3, 2010.
Mr Justice Dzamefe, therefore, adjourned hearing the substantive matter to February 8, 2010.
The court is yet to give its ruling on whether or not to grant the State’s request for jurors in the case to be confined throughout the trial.
The accused persons, who were accompanied by military police officers to and out of the courtroom, are alleged to have acted with Private Seth Goka, who is currently on the run, to murder Alhaji Mobilla.
The facts of the case are that Alhaji Mobilla was arrested by the police on December 9, 2004 for allegedly supplying the youth in Tamale with guns to foment trouble.
While he was in custody, the police received information that his followers and sympathisers were mobilising to free him. The deceased was consequently transferred from police cells to the Kamina Military Barracks and handed over to the three accused persons.
According to the prosecution, Alhaji Mobilla died three hours after he had been handed over to the accused persons who were on duty that day.
The chief pathologist’s report revealed that the deceased had been sent to the hospital dead and that he had died from multiple wounds.