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Supreme Court Jails Atubiga And Ken Kuranchie   
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Audio Attachment:Listen to Justice William Auguba delevering the sentence

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The Supreme Court has sentenced Mr Steven Atubiga, a member of the communication team of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) and Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Searchlight Newspaper, Ken Kuranchie to 3 and 10 days imprisonment for contemptuous comments respectively.

This was after the two were afforded the chance to retract their statements after they were summoned by the court.

A third member of the "hunted trio", Kweku Boahen, the Ashanti Regional Youth Organiser of the NDC, however, escaped punishment when it was realized that his comments were made after the "final warning" given by the Supreme Court.

The three were alleged to have acted in contravention of the Supreme Court’s June, 24, 2013 order which directed all persons to desist from making prejudicial comments and distortion of facts in the ongoing presidential election petition.

They were on June 27, 2013 ordered to appear before the court, barely 24 hours after the court had barred the Deputy Communications Director of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Mr Sammy Awuku, from attending hearing of the case until the final determination of the matter for making inappropriate comments in connection with the court’s June 24 order.

A remorseful and apologetic Atubiga, with his head bowed down, told the court that there was "no excuse" for his "actions" and asked for "a second chance".

“My Lords, I apologise for my irresponsible statement. I think it will not happen again. I started apologizing way before I got the summon. I’m responsible for my statement and it was irresponsible of me. Give me a second chance. There is no excuse for my mistakes. I take full responsibility for my irresponsible actions. From the bottom of my heart I really apologise for my actions.”

A clearly nervous Atubiga could barely raise his head as Justices Baffoe-Bonnie and William Atuguba probed him.

Repeatedly, he was asked to repeat what he had said on radio, and on each occasion he begged for forgiveness, begging profusely that upon sober reflection he felt ashamed even to repeat same.

Justice Baffoe-Bonnie, however, wanted Mr Atubiga to repeat exactly what he said when he was on Asempa FM. He probed further wanting to know if Mr Atubiga was apologising because of the words he used or because his utterances were not suitable to be repeated in the presence of the justices.

“My Lord I’ve prayed to God that those words should never come out of my mouth anymore and I humbly stand in front of you my Lords…I am apologizing because I have acted irresponsibly. I am a father and a husband and I have to live an example for my kids,” Mr Atubiga humbly apologised again.

Sounding irritated, the Judge further addressed Mr Atubiga as a “mere” person who “has no guts to make those statements.”

“When you made those statements what came into your head. Seriously…You standing there, you, a mere you…We are sitting on a matter that touches on the governance of this country and a mere you stands out there and before your cronies tell the whole world that whatever decision comes out of this court you will not obey them. Now look at you, look at you,” he addressed him.

So despite acknowledging Mr Atubiga’s plea, the nine-member panel hearing the election petition, after careful deliberations served the one time parliamentary aspirant the jail term.

Boahene, on his part, stridently denied ever making the statement reported by New Statesman claiming he had not been on any radio station for the past two weeks.

According to him, the reportage was false and therefore charged the court to investigate the matter “thoroughly”.

When it came to light that the newspaper had retracted the publication in its Tuesday edition, the bench subsequently discharged him.

But the journalist among the trio, Ken Kuranchie, remained defiant and attempted to put up a spirited defence. Led by his three lawyers, Atta Akyea, Yaw Owusu Addo and Kofi Boakye, the newspaper editor said he needed clarity on whether the court had made a charge against him.

He also sought to find out from the Bench what the basis of his invitation was and also wondered if he was being confronted with a charged sheet or not

According to him, his article was to merely bring to the court’s notice worse comments that had been made before Sammy’s criticism of the court’s decisions as hypocritical.

Obviously angered by the back and forth exchanges he (Kuranchie) was having with the Judges, the bench attempted to get him to either go straight forward and admit his guilt and apologise or stand his ground if he thought he was right and they (Bench) was wrong.

In the midst of the banter, one of the Justices warned the journalist not to try to be a “hero”.

Sensing danger, Samuel Atta Akyea and Yaw Addo begged leave of the court to approach their client and ostensibly offer some advice.

Mr. Kuranchie then offered a qualified apology by predicating his comments with a conditional “if”. He said if the court felt "great displeasure" because of his commentary, he apologises for the publication.

After promptings by the Bench for him to make a full unqualified apology, Mr. Kuranchie said: “It seems” his publication rubbed the Bench on the wrong side and so he was apologising.

After attempts by the judges to get clarification on his conditional apology, the court recessed to consider all the cases.

The Bench, after a brief recess, sentenced Mr. Kuranchie to 10 days in prison.

Reading out the ruling, the President of the nine-member panel, hearing the Presidential Election Petition, Justice William A. Atuguba indicated that Mr Kuranchie did not show any sense of remorse, meaning, he is not truly apologetic of his comments.
Source: Rebecca Addo-Tetteh/Peacefmonline.com/Ghana

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