Friday, February 19, 2010

Radio panellist remanded

Friday, February 19, 2010 (Page 3 Lead)

THERE was chaos on the premises of the Cocoa Affairs Court when a radio panellist was whisked away by security forces after he had been remanded in prison custody for allegedly publishing false news with intent to cause alarm.
Supporters of Nana Darkwa Baafi, who was alleged to have stated on Top Radio, a private radio station, that former President J.J. Rawlings had deliberately set fire to his house on February 14, 2010 in order to be relocated by President J. E.A. Mills, did not take kindly to Baafi’s remand.
They were incensed to the extent that they hurled curses at the trial judge and the security men who whisked the accused person out of the court premises to begin serving his remand.
Some of the supporters wore New Patriotic Party (NPP) apparel and openly expressed their anger and wondered how a harmless statement of such nature could cause Baafi’s remand.
Baafi pleaded not guilty to one count of publishing false news with intent to cause alarm under Section 208 of Act 60 of the Criminal Procedure Code but he was refused bail by the court, presided over by Mr C.A. Wilson.
He was remanded to reappear on March 3, 2010.
Counsel for the accused person, Mr Kwame Akuffo, prayed the court to admit Baafi to bail on the grounds that the accused person’s statement was totally harmless.
Reacting to the court’s remand of the accused person, counsel stated that he would appeal against the decision.
Counsel said he totally disagreed with the judge’s decision to remand his client and asked where the ingredient of harm was.
He further argued that the ingredients of offence contradicted the facts of the case.
The facts of the case were that on February 18, 2010, the accused person went to the radio station as a panel member in a radio discussion programme and, during the discussions, the host raised the issue of the recent fire outbreak at the residence of the former President.
The prosecution stated that the accused person, who was not present during the fire outbreak and without any truth, stated, among other things, that the former President had intentionally caused the fire outbreak to compel the current President to relocate him.
According to the prosecution, the statement incensed the public and a sizeable number of people rushed to the radio station, ostensibly to attack the host and the panel members.
The police rushed to the scene to restore law and order and subsequently whisked the panel members away into safety.
It further stated that Baafi admitted the offence during interrogation at the Regional Police Headquarters and asked for forgiveness.
The complainant in the case is Mr Kofi Adams, the Spokesperson for former President Rawlings.

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