Military Deserter In Trouble

An Accra Human Rights Court has granted the application for the writ of habeas corpus filed by lawyers for Corporal Dominic Ohene Afram who deserted his duty post without notice.

The suspect, formerly with the 48 Engineers Regiment at Wajir Barracks, Teshie in Accra, was arrested by operatives of the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) on May 12, 2015 after he allegedly deserted the service in 2006.

As a result, GAF reportedly kept Corporal Afram in pre-trial confinement for 13 days, a situation which compelled the wife, Eugenia Akosua Yeboah Owusu, to file for the writ demanding the release of her husband pending trial.

In a 14-paragraph affidavit filed at the court by Divine Asigbetse for Mrs Yeboah Owusu, she stated that “even though I have been granted periodic permission to visit my husband, several pleas to officers of the respondents to grant my husband bail pending his presentation in court have proven futile.”

She added that for over a period of 13 calendar days, the authorities in charge of “my husband have failed to arraign him before any forum or court of competent jurisdiction for a formal press of charges against him let alone the taking of his plea and consideration of any application for bail.”

Mr Asigbetse, among other things, averred that to date, the officers in charge of Corporal Afram had failed to produce the suspect before court, neither had they given nor established any reason for their failure to do so.

In an affidavit in opposition, Nelson Ayandoo, counsel for the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Chief of Army Staff and the Commanding Officer, said the request for bail was turned down because there was a likelihood of the accused running away like he did in 2006.

He said Corporal Afram escaped from custody when investigations begun into his suspected attempt to desert the GAF.

Nelson Ayandoo explained that the suspect sought permission from the investigation officers to pick money from his room and that when he was granted the permission, he jumped over the wall, took to his heels and was never seen again until his arrest.

But Justice K. A. Okwabi, in a ruling, granted the application, admitting Corporal Afram to bail in the sum of GH¢300,000 with two sureties to be justified with registered landed properties.

As part of the bail conditions, the suspect is to deposit his passport with the appropriate officer in charge of the 48 Engineers Regiment.

Justice K.A. Okwabi ordered that the respondents should inform all security agencies with photographs and other details of the suspect so as to enable the agencies to apprehend the suspect should he try to abscond again.

The Judge stated that the suspect is also to report to the commanding officers of the 48 Engineers Regiment every week until the matter is put before a Court Martial.