Commercial High Court hearing the case of the Republic versus Eugene Baffoe-Bonnie and four others, has rejected the first three cautions statements taken from the first accused person when he was first arrested in May 2017.
The Court, however, admitted the last three of the six statements that were under contention as having been taken under duress, intimidation and threats.
On the 28th of February 2019, lawyer for the first accused person, Thaddeus Sory, made it known to the trial court when he opposed the tendering of the six (6) caution statements by State Prosecutors through their sixth Prosecution Witness who is the Police Officer who investigated the case, Detective Chief Inspector Michael Nkrumah.
First Accused Person through his lawyer told the Court that he wrote and signed six (6) out of ten (10) caution statements taken from him by investigators under duress, intimidation, threats and without the presence of an independent witness while the statements were being taken.
This claim by the first accused person necessitated a mini trial to establish whether or not the said statements were actually taken under duress, intimidation and threats of harm.
Argument by Defence Lawyers
In all, the First Accused Person, Eugene Baffoe-Bonnie, has written and signed ten (10) statements that the State intends to tender in exhibits in support of their case.
Lawyers for the accused person are however challenging the admissibility of six (6) of the statements. In his opposing argument, the defence lawyer stated that the statements of the First Accused Person was taken without any reference to him of his right to counsel of his choice.
He further argued that the constitutional obligation to inform the First Accused Person of his right to a lawyer of his choice was in breach of Article 14 of the 1992 Constitution of the Republic, and therefore a breach of his fundamental human rights.
“At the time of taking the statement, there was no independent witness present. The statement was extracted from the First Accused Person by the use of threats, inducement and duress,” Lawyer Thaddeus Sory told the Court.
In her counter argument to the claims of lawyers for the First Accused Person, the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Yvonne Atakora Buabisa, argued that the First Accused Person was reminded of his right to counsel before the statements were taken and in his own handwriting on the phase of the caution statements indicated that he was reminded of his right to counsel.
Justice Eric Kyei Baffour’s court in its ruling after the mini trial said from the evidence before him after the mini trial, it is clear to him that the first three statements taken from the first accused person in May 2017, were not taken with due process and for that matter they were not admissible in Court.
He further ruled that there was enough evidence to prove that the remaining three which have been marked ID4, ID5, ID6, were taken with due regard for the law and in the presence of an independent witness and were therefore admissible. Same the court said are admitted into evidence.
The substantive trial has subsequently resumed and the sixth prosecution witness of the State, Detective Chief Inspector Michael Nkrumah, is back in the dock to continue a with his evidence.