An Accra High Court on Monday quashed the 10- year jail term imposed on Charles Antwi, the 36 year old taxi driver who wanted to assassinate President John Dramani Mahama at the Ring Way Assemblies of Church.
The Court presided over by Mr Justice K. A. Okwabi ordered that Antwi be sent to the Accra Psychiatric Hospital for him to be medically examined to ascertain his true state of mind.
The court said: “The applicant’s order of certiorari is granted. Let the processes of the circuit court be brought before the court to be quashed”.
The court did not award any cost.
Charles Antwi is currently in the custody of the Bureau of National Investigations.
Antwi was slapped with a 10- year jail term last month when he made his first appearance before an Accra Circuit court charged for unlawful possession of firearms.
The court’s order followed its ruling on an order of certiorari filed by Human Rights Lawyer, Mr Francis Xavier Sosu on behalf of Antwi and the Mental Health Authority.
In its ruling the court noted that before a person is sentenced, the lower court should have ensured that the accused person was mentally examined.
According to the High Court the lower court should also have to subpoena the medical doctor who examined the accused to testify on the mental state of the accused before taking the plea of the accused person.
It noted that there was complete error of law on the part of the lower court to give applicant 10 years instead of five years and fine of 500 penalty units.
In totality the court noted that the proceedings of the circuit court were flawed in law hence quashing the lower court’s proceedings.
On the issue of compensating the applicant, the court noted that Antwi had not been acquitted by the court hence it could not order for any compensation.
Mr Sosu was pushing for the quashing of the jail term and compensation for applicant.
The State opposed the application saying it had already filed an appeal before another High Court.
Arguing his case out, Mr Sosu noted that Antwi should have been sentenced to five years and a fine of 500 penalty unit (one penalty unit is GH₡12.00).
However Antwi was given 10 years which was the maximum sentence, adding that was a clear error of law and same must be quashed.
Counsel noted that the plea of the applicant was not right in respect of his demeanour.
According to him if the BNI had done due diligence, they would have known the applicant‘s mental status.
He was therefore praying the court to order that the applicant be sent to a health facility and be compensated thereafter.
The Attorney General contended that it had already appealed against the decision of the Circuit Court that convicted Antwi at an Accra High Court; and the appeal is being heard.
The State noted that the law allows people to change their plea of not guilty to guilty.
According to the State, the trial judge had nothing to believe the applicant was not of sound mind.
The State contended that the applicant when given the chance to speak confirmed his guilt.
Mr Sosu went to court praying for the declaration that Antwi is a mental patient and must be sent to the psychiatric hospital for treatment and also to quash the jail term imposed on him.
The State is of the view that, the trial judge, Mr Justice Francis Obiri erred in his judgment because there was an error on the face of the record, while Antwi was sent to court only to be remanded.
It is, therefore, seeking a retrial and a thorough mental examination of the convict.