The family members of the 81-year-old man, Daniel Yaw Ansong, who was allegedly murdered in cold blood at Asempaneye near Kwahu Hwehwe in the Eastern Region in May 2015, have expressed reservations about the decision of the Nkawkaw Magistrate court to grant bail to the accused person, Frank Kofi Osei, 38.
The accused person was granted bail on Ausust 12, 2015 in the sum of GHc 50,000 with three sureties but was still in the belly of the Koforidua Prisons because his family has not been able to meet the bail conditions.
However, family members of the deceased have argued that the magistrate court, presided over by, Mr Francis Annin, breached the law when it granted bail to an accused person in a murder case.
What the law says
The family members insists that the crime was a non-bailable offence per the country’s Criminal Procedure Code but the court said its decision was legal and based on the grounds of ill health and the Justice for All Programme.
Section 96(7) of the country’s Criminal Code states that, a court shall refuse to grant bail, (a) in a case of treason, subversion, murder, robbery, hijacking, piracy, rape and defilement or escape from lawful custody and, (b) where a person is being held for extradition to a foreign country.
However, the law offers judges discretionary powers in situations including where the accused person has been unduly held without trial; where the accused person is very ill or is mentally incapacitated to stand trial.
Justice for All Programme
The Director of Communications of the Judicial Service, Mrs Grace Tagoe, told Graphic Online that although the programme was for remand prisoners, who had spent about five years or more in prison, it was not the only criteria.
She explained that it was also for remand prisoners who were not going to court because they had been forgotten by the system.
“In most of these cases, it is either their dockets are missing, the prosecutors have been transferred or they have simply been forgotten by the system,” she added.
In this instance, the accused person was arrested on May 23, 2015 and granted bail on August 12, 2015.
The eldest son of the late retired Prisons Officer, Mr Kwaku Ansong, told Graphic Online that the family disagreed with the court’s decision to grant bail to the accused person.
According to the Nkawkaw Police, the accused person allegedly entered the home of the deceased on May 23, this year, at about 8.30 a.m. and hit him [deceased] with a wooden bench until he died.
The accused was arrested by the Sunumakese Police in the Abetifi District and transferred to the Nkawkaw Police Station where he was charged with murder and arraigned before the Nkawkaw District Magistrate’s Court.
He was remanded twice in police custody until June 26 when he was remanded in prison custody to reappear before the court on August 10.
However, on August 10, the prosecution failed to send him to court so the court ordered the police to do so on August 12. It was on that day that the court granted him bail.
A very angry man who brought gory images of his father’s death to the offices of Graphic Online in Accra said, “They granted the accused bail in a murder case. Somebody who killed my father for no reason was granted bail.”
“We have been told that the docket has been sent to the Attorney General (AG) for advice and the police say the wheel of justice grinds slowly and that the advice can come even in three years.”
“I wept for injustice, and I wept for in injustice in Ghana, I wept for Ghana. A murder case of this nature and the judge sat and granted bail to the accused person.”
“Money has exchanged hands. This is injustice. I am very angry. If I have my own way, I will also take the law into my hands,” he added before breaking down into tears.
But responding to the claims in his Nkawkaw home, the judge, Mr Francis Annin denied the allegations and said his actions were within the confines of the law.
“If somebody had come to see me to give me money and grant him bail, wouldn’t the same person go and stand surety for him, especially when the person doesn’t have to pay money to stand surety?” he asked.
To justify his decision, the magistrate brought out his copy of the 1992 Constitution and said “Read; what does Article 14(4) say? I did not take a pesewa from anyone. My ruling is firmly grounded in the law and I believe the Constitution is supreme,” he stated.
Article 14(4) states: “Where a person arrested, restricted or detained under paragraph (a) or (b) of clause (3) of this article is not tried within a reasonable time, then without prejudice to any further proceedings that may be brought against him, he shall be released, either unconditionally or upon reasonable conditions, including in particular, conditions reasonably necessary to ensure that he appears at a later date for trial or for proceedings preliminary to trial.”
Explaining his decision further, Mr Annin stressed, “As the judge, I realised that the man had become emaciated and pale and was not in the state in which he came before me on May 23. If I realised that the man is dying, should I allow the man to die on remand or should I admit him to bail until the time the state would hear him in a fair trial,” he asked.
“That is the dilemma for the judge and that is where judicial discretion comes in,” he said.
Mr Annin said he had to take the decision while waiting for the AG to issue its fiat on whether to prosecute or discharge the accused person.
“What this means is that if the AG doesn’t issue this fiat for 10 years, the accused person will be on remand.”
This is not the first time
“In October and November last year, the Judicial Service summoned all judges and magistrates to Koforidua as part of the Justice for All Programme and a number of remand prisoners who had committed first degree felony offences were admitted to bail.
“We were told that it is not enough to say this is a non-bailable offence and then remand the accused persons. We must open our eyes and see the state of the accused person,” he added.
He also said there were close to 10 other murder cases in his court, some dating back 2005 but the AG’s had not given any response so the accused persons had been granted bail before he assumed duty in 2013.
“They come to me every month and I adjourn the case from month to month, “he added.
Source: Daily Graphic
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