Monday, April 30, 2012
KEN AGYAPONG FACES 3 COUNTS
April 19, 2012 (Lead Story) THE Adjabeng District Magistrate’s Court in Accra Wednesday said it had no jurisdiction over the hearing of a treason case against the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Member of Parliament for Assin North, Kennedy Agyapong. Agyapong was alleged to have declared war as well as incited Ashantis to attack Gas and Ewes while speaking on a private radio station on April 13, 2012. He has been in police custody since April 16, 2012. The presiding judge at the Adjabeng District Magistrate’s Court, Ms Patricia Kwansah, recused herself from hearing the matter after defence lawyers had applied for bail for the MP. She explained that the Chief Justice had, in a circular dated June 17, 2008, directed all magistrate’s courts to refer matters relating to robbery, murder, treason, hijacking, rape and other first degree felony cases to the Chief Justice’s Secretariat for a Higher Court to be assigned. Agyapong has been charged with three counts of treason, treason felony and attempted genocide. His plea was not taken. He, however, raised his hands during the hearing of his case and apologised to the court for the unruly behaviour of his supporters. He also stated that he did not intend to cause mayhem in the country. Party big wigs interacted with him briefly after the presiding judge had risen to her chambers. A Principal State Attorney, Mr Anthony Rexford Wiredu, had prayed the court to remand Agyapong for two weeks to enable the prosecution to complete investigations into the matter but one of the defence lawyers, Mr Atta Akyea, insisted that there was nothing to investigate. Mr Wiredu, whose car windscreen was smashed by angry sympathisers, informed reporters that it was likely Agyapong would be put before the High Court today. The Magistrate’s Court’s decision threw defence lawyers, party executives and hundreds of sympathisers into a worrying state because they had expected the court to pronounce on a bail application from the defence team. Agyapong, who looked calm, reserved, smiled intermittently and mostly indifferent during the court proceeding, was whisked away in a waiting armoured vehicle at exactly 2:38 p.m. Hundreds of the sympathisers, who besieged the court, were prevented from entering the court premises. They taunted and cursed the police officers who were at the main gate to the court to ensure law and order. Mostly clad in mourning attire, the sympathisers hooted at police officers and attempted to fight their way through to the courtroom but they were kept at bay. The police ignored the insults and acted professionally. The crowd cheered when Agyapong was whisked away. He waved at his supporters while on his way out. Activities at the Central Business District of Accra were brought to a standstill as the huge crowd, mostly NPP activists, sang and chanted war songs. Not even the heavy presence of armed policemen prevented them from making deafening noise which filtered into the courtroom. The crowd marched to the Fast Track High Court premises to follow up on a habeas corpus application filed by the defence team, praying the court to order the police to produce Agyapong. The crowd marched off at exactly 5:00 p.m. upon realising that the application could not be heard yesterday. Police officers detailed to maintain law and order on the court premises drove off at exactly 5:30 p.m. Earlier at the District Magistrate’s sitting, Mr Wiredu informed the court that the prosecution had come to court to pray the court to commit the MP into lawful custody. According to him, the case was fresh and the second to be recorded in the history of the country and for that reason, the prosecution was pleading with the court to give the prosecution two weeks to investigate it. He said the prosecution was yet to prepare the bill of indictment and summary of evidence to pave the way for the committal of the MP to the High Court for trial. Opposing the prosecution’s application, Mr Akyea argued that what Agyapong said did not amount to treason and argued that the charge was a ploy by the prosecution to refuse his client bail. He said it was not the duty of the judiciary to rubber stamp cases of such nature and explained that his client had made an intervention on a radio programme, asserting that if the police did not show interest in the rule of law there would be chaos in Ghana. According to the counsel, Ghanaians were not safe if what his client said could be said to amount to treason, adding that the worst charge the state could have levelled against the MP was the charge of use of intemperate language. He further argued that it was an embarrassment for the state to assert that what the MP said amounted to treason because his client had no arms or any offensive weapon in his house when it was searched. Mr Akyea said treason cases recorded in the past involved several people, and it was, therefore, unfortunate for the Attorney-General to charge the MP because he was only one person who was incapable of toppling the state. Counsel argued that the MP’s comments were not incriminating to warrant the court to refuse him bail. He said it was a great danger to be put before court and remanded without any basis and questioned why the state sought to use the judiciary as a blessing to turn his client into a guinea pig. He, therefore, prayed the court to resist the temptation to remand the MP because the MP voluntarily reported to the police after he was invited. Mr Akyea also informed the court that the MP’s wife was an Ewe and for that reason, his client would not deliberately incite any tribe against Ewes. One of the lawyers for the MP, Mr Ayikoi Otoo, also argued that the court had no jurisdiction to hear the case.