Thursday, October 14, 2010
Pathologist Testifies In Ya Na Trial
Accused persons entering the police escort vehicle yesterday.
Posted on: www.dailyguideghana.com
By William Yaw Owusu
Thursday October 14, 2010
The pathologist, who performed an autopsy on the body of Ya Na Yakubu Andani II, overlord of Dagbon and 28 others after the intra-ethnic conflict between the Abudus and Andanis at Yendi in March 2002, yesterday testified in the trial of 15 persons charged for the murder of the King.
During cross-examination, Brigadier General Dr. Jaswant Mante Wadhwani (Rtd), who was a Colonel at the 37 Military Hospital at the time of the conflict said that although there was no scientific proof that a male charred body he examined on March 29, 2002 was that of the Ya Na, it was ‘positively’ identified by the Medical Officer in charge of the Yendi Hospital called Dr. Bernard Seshie before he conducted the autopsy.
He told an Accra Fast Track High Court, presided over by Justice EK Ayebi of the Court of Appeal that once the body of the Ya Na was ‘positively’ identified it would have been a waste of money to go for a DNA analysis to establish the identity of the body saying “to date nobody doubts that the body was nobody else’ but that of the Dagbonwura.”
All the 15 accused persons, except Zakaria Yakubu aka Zakaria Forest, the seventh accused (A7) who is currently at large, were in court.
They have all pleaded not guilty to conspiracy, with Forest (A7) facing an additional charge of murder.
They are currently on remand except Iddrisu Iddi aka Mbadugu, due to old age.
Those on trial are Iddrisu Iddi aka Mbadugu, Alhaji Baba Abdulai Iddrisu aka Zohe, Kwame Alhassan aka Achiri, Mohamadu Abdulai aka Samasama, Sayibu Mohammed, Alhassan Braimah and Alhaji Mohammed Habib Tijani, 45, former District Chief Executive (DCE) of Yendi as second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth and eighth accused persons respectively.
The rest are Baba Ibrahim aka Baba Zey, Alhassan Mohammed aka Mohammed Cheampon, Mohammed Mustapha, Shani Imoro, Yakubu Yusif aka Leftee and Hammed Abukari Yussif aka Kuns and Abdul Razak Yussif aka Nyaa as ninth, 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th, 14th and 15th accused persons respectively.
Led in evidence by Rexford Wiredu, a Principal State Attorney, Dr. Wadhwani, the 10th Prosecution Witness (PW10) said there were name tags on 17 out of the 29 bodies including that of the Ya Na that he examined, noting that the exercise was done in the presence of Dr. Seshie and Messrs Provencal and Taylor after which he issued a report.
He said he also issued a second report specifically on the Ya Na and it was used by an Accra Fast Track High Court that tried Yidana Sugri and Iddrisu Janfo (two men who were subsequently acquitted and discharged for killing the Ya Na) in 2003.
In his report titled: “Autopsy report on charred remains of an adult male,” Dr. Wadhwani told the court that the body was “badly mutilated” and “showed second degree burns” and his impression in the report revealed “hemorrhagic shock associated with decapitation, among others.”
He concluded that there was a lot of blood loss as a result of the severing of parts of the body and added that it would require “a heavy and sharp instrument” to be able to cause such damage.
During cross-examination by Phillip Addison, counsel for the accused, Dr. Wadhwani said he testified at the Wuaku Commission (the body set up by President Kufuor to investigate the murder of the Ya Na) but said he could not remember the exact date.
The counsel refreshed the memory of the witness by putting it to him that he was at the Wuaku Commission on June 25, 2002 as the 40th witness.
Counsel: Did you submit a report to the commission
Witness: I did, My Lord
He said what he submitted to the commission was the findings and not the complete autopsy report adding “the report summarized the causation of death of 28 people.
That report was silent on the causation of death in respect of the Ya Na.”
Counsel: So you appeared before the commission and submitted an incomplete report
Witness: I did indicate that there was death as a result of decapitation
Counsel: Did you or did you not submit an incomplete report to the commission
Witness: As I said, in the case of the Ya Na, I was silent on the causation of
death. However anybody who read that report, the findings of the charred body of an adult male referred to only one person. (Witness explains further) When it came to the trial and required evidence, a second report was issued to assist the court.
Counsel: So after the autopsy, it took you one year to come out with your findings
Witness: In that report there was enough evidence for the panel to have information on the possible cause of death of the Ya Na… It was a distinguished panel and they derived all the answers from me.
Counsel: It took you one year to present Exhibit B (report).
Witness: The trial required impressions of how the Ya Na died… The object of autopsy is to determine the cause of death.
Counsel: Before Wuaku Commission, you failed to disclose the cause of death.
Witness: I did not fail to disclose the exact position of death or establish the definitive cause of death. My impression was that he must have died through hemorrhagic shock secondary decapitation.
Counsel: Did you tell the commission the cause of death.
Witness: I think I must have given the commission the cause of death. The impression was the same as at the Yidana Sugri trial.
Counsel: The report you presented was meant to meet the legal requirement in the trial of The Republic versus Yidana Sugri.
Witness: I will agree with you.
Counsel: Since 2002, have you had the opportunity to do further work on any of the bodies
Witness: No, My Lord
Counsel: There was an issue over the identity of the body at Wuaku Commission.
Witness: I chose that title (Autopsy report on charred remains of an adult male) but on arrival it had been positively identified as that of the Ya Na.
Counsel: Who identified it to you
Witness: Dr. Bernard Seshie, resident medical officer at the Yendi Hospital
Counsel: Did you find the identification sufficient
Witness: My Lord, I will say yes…there was only one decapitation. Information prior to my autopsy was that the Ya Na had been killed and it turned out to be true.
Counsel: Is there any scientific proof that it was the body of the Ya Na
Witness: My Lord, to answer that question, I will say no.
Counsel put it to PW10 that at the commission he (PW10) had disputed that it was the body of the Ya Na and said it was one of the cases that he examined, pointing out that he needed permission to do a DNA before he could specifically identify the body but in court yesterday Dr. Wadhwani insisted that the body was that of the Ya Na and that it was ‘positively’ identified.
Counsel: You tendered a report similar to Exhibit B but you have doctored it.
Witness: My Lord, that is not true.
Counsel: The statement “these remains are yet to be positively identified has been taken out of Exhibit B.
Witness: On that occasion I needed to present my impressions about the cause of death of the Ya Na. It did not need to be there. I chose what to put on the paper.
Counsel then read excerpts of the proceedings during the Yidana trial to him (witness) and said he (witness) had told the court then that the body he referred to could be that of anybody and not necessarily that of the Ya Na, Dr Wadhwani replied “then I did not make the right comment.”
Counsel: You were unable to tell the commission the cause of death.
Witness: I did allude to certain charred body which was that of the Ya Na. I said it was decapitated with blood loss. This was my impression
Counsel: I repeat You were unable to establish the cause of death of the Ya Na.
Witness: I did say that my impression of the causation of death was a result of hemorrhagic shock as a result of decapitation and injuries to the head and limbs. It could have been factors and concluded that the burning was terminal.
Counsel: All these things you have said, you never said them at the commission
Witness: Verbatim; maybe not but I did allude to them. I used the word impressions.
Counsel: In Exhibit B, you have stated clearly what the cause of death was but you did not say so at the commission.
Witness: I agree but I did allude to them. I can’t reduce my answers to yes or no.
The prosecution then asked for an adjournment to enable them study the proceedings of the Yidana Sugri trial, which was tendered in evidence by defense counsel and was fiercely objected to by the prosecution before re-examining Dr. Wadhwani, and the judge granted.
Sitting continues today