Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Prosecution Makes U-turn In Ya Na Trial

Posted on: www.dailyguideghana.com

By William Yaw Owusu

Tuesday October 26, 2010
The audio and video recordings of proceedings of the Wuaku Commission, a body set up by former President Kufuor to investigate the intra-ethnic conflict between Abudu and Andani Royal Gates at Yendi in 2002, which led to the murder of Ya Na Yakubu Andani II, overlord of Dagbon, have been located.

Yesterday at the trial of 15 persons who have been accused of murdering the Ya Na, state prosecutors from the Attorney General’s Department, who filed an affidavit on October 14, 2010 noting that the state did not have any document or material apart from the commission’s report, made a sharp u-turn by presenting a box full of audio and video recordings of the 2002 proceedings.

Anthony Rexford Wiredu, a Principal State Attorney said unknown to the AG, the audio and video recordings of the Presidential Commission were in the custody of one S.T. Korley of the AG’s Department and upon reading from the newspapers about the whereabouts of the materials, Mr. Korley made them available.

“I have listened to some of the cassettes. The contents are the same as those that we have on the proceedings which are already in evidence.”

Mr. Wiredu said it would be a waste of time to listen to the cassettes one by one adding “all those that I have personally listened to are the same as the printed version.”

Atta Akyea, who led the defense team yesterday said “we have been vindicated. We have always insisted that the materials were in their possession and once the prosecution has indicated that the contents on the cassettes are the same as what we have on the proceedings, we will not raise any objection.”

He said since the tapes were handed over to a properly designated state institution, a regime change should not affect the custody of the material.

The trial judge in his ruling advised the prosecution to ensure the safe keeping of the materials so that as and when the need arose they could be brought to the court.

The prosecution, led by Gertrude Aikins, the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) on September 16, 2010 vehemently objected to the tendering of the proceedings of the commission’s report which is in four volumes by defense counsel, Phillip Addison saying they were not authentic but the court over ruled the objection and asked the defense counsel to authenticate and tender them because the documents were relevant to the trial.

Defense counsel, after authenticating and tendering the proceedings, filed a notice requesting the AG to produce the original video, audio and soft copies of the commission’s proceedings but the DPP replied that the AG’s Department had conducted extensive search but could not find anything except the report itself.

The court, in its ruling, said it was strange for the prosecution, which was supposed to be the custodian of such vital materials, to state in open court that those documents could not be traced.

After the issue of the cassettes had been sorted out, Mr. Wiredu asked the court to adjourn the proceedings because the next prosecution witness could not be brought to court by the police.

He said the investigators were in the Northern region to get the witnesses to testify.

Mr. Atta Akyea said the witnesses voluntarily gave statements saying “there should not be any hassle at all in coming to defend their statements.”

“The case cannot be at the pleasure of two witnesses who are not willing to come.”
The court granted the prosecution’s request and adjourned proceedings until October 27, 2010.

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.

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