Friday, October 15, 2010

Prosecutor beats retreat in Ya Na trial

The accused person getting ready to leave the court premises yesterday

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By William Yaw Owusu

Friday October 15, 2010
The prosecution in the case of 15 persons standing trial for the murder of Ya Na Yakubu Andani, overlord of Dagbon in 2002 yesterday disappointed a packed Fast Track High Court in Accra when it decided not to re-examine the pathologist who performed an autopsy on the body of the late king.

It all started when Principal State Attorney, Anthony Rexford Wiredu on Wednesday, October 13, 2010, said he would need an adjournment to re-examine the tenth Prosecution Witness (PW10), Brigadier General Dr. Jaswant Mante Wadhwani (Rtd) after the witness was cross-examined by Phillip Addison, Counsel for the 15 accused persons.

Mr. Wiredu had said on Wednesday that he needed time to cross-check a court document (excerpts of the proceedings during the Yidana Sugri and Iddrisu Janfo Trial) which was tendered in evidence by defense counsel before he could re-examine Dr. Wadhwani, a request that was granted reluctantly by the trial judge, Justice EK Ayebi of the Court of Appeal.

“I have never done this kind of application before but all the same I will grant you your request,” the judge said.

Yesterday, after waiting in the courtroom for about two hours for a faulty recording machine used in the trial to be fixed, the court commenced proceedings at exactly 11:27 am.

Mr. Wiredu stood up and said, “My Lord, there will be no re-examination,” sparking noise in the courtroom.

The judge said: “But you asked for an adjournment to enable you to study the document and re-examine the witness.”

Mr. Wiredu said the prosecution would no longer re-examine Dr. Wadhwani.

The jurors were then given the opportunity to ask questions.

They asked Dr. Wadhwani whether there were gunshot wounds or pellets found in the body of the Ya Na to which the witness replied “I did not find any pellet.”

Mr. Wiredu then said “My Lord, we wanted to call our next witness, Detective Inspector Charles Adaba, the officer who did the initial investigations in 2002, but he just came back from Sudan, so we are going to have a conference with him before he comes to give evidence.”

“We are going to crave your indulgence to have conference with him. He has documents he will tender. We want to give him time to arrange all these documents to be used as exhibits. We want the case to be adjourned until Monday”.

Defense Counsel Mr. Addison said “all exhibits to be tendered in evidence should have been ready before the accused were brought to be tried. I also do not think it is fair for the prosecution to ask for an adjournment purposely for re-examination and not do it.”

He then urged the court to hear an application filed by the accused persons on September 24, 2010 to compel the Attorney-General to produce all documents and exhibits that were brought before the Wuaku Commission (the body set up by President Kufuor to investigate the murder of the Ya Na after the intra-ethnic conflict between the Abudu and Andani Gates in Yendi in March 2002).

Mr. Wiredu noted that the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Gertrude Aikins was working on it and that was the reason why she was not in the court and as the argument went on, the DPP arrived in the courtroom and told the court that the only document in their custody was the Wuaku Commission report.

“We did not find handing-over note from any Attorney-General,” she said.

The judge said the application should be heard on Monday, October 18, 2010 and asked the prosecution to serve defense counsel with their affidavit in opposition to the application.

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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