The alleged coup plotters on their way out of court

A three-member panel of the High Court in Accra presided over by Justice Afia Serwah Asare-Botwe has overruled objections raised against the tendering of video and audio recordings in the ongoing alleged Coup trial.

Lawyers of Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Benjamin Agordzo, Dr Frederick Yao Mac-Palm, and eight others on Monday, November 1, raised a series of objections against the tendering of the said recordings which were played in open court.

Ruling on the objection on Tuesday, November 2, 2021, the panel which also included Justice Hafisata Amaleboba and Justice Anthony Oppong said, “it is our view that the evidence on the hard drive are relevant for the determination of this case ..the fact the date is 2013 doesn’t make it inadmissible.”

On the issue of the violations of fundamental human rights by secret recording without a warrant, the court said, “We have looked at Section 70 of the ETA ..conclude that notwithstanding the fact that the communication was recorded without a warrant we find the communication admissible Act 18(2) gives the court the discretion to admit it.

The court said, regarding the seriousness of the charges it is in the public interest to admit them the said recordings in evidence.

To this end, the court said all objections relating to breach of rights including recording without a warrant have no merit and proceeded to admit the drive into evidence.

Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Benjamin Agordzo, Dr. Frederick Mac-Palm, and eight others are standing trial for charges including conspiracy, High treason, and Abetment.

Staff Sergeant Awarf Sule, the military officer who recorded the videos and audios of the said meetings has given evidence and was in the process of tendering the recordings after they were played in open court.

Objections

On Monday, November 1, 2021, the defence lawyers for all the 10 accused persons raised objections that relate to the relevance of the hard drive which was being tendered.

Lawyers E.A Avordoagbor, counsel for Dr Mac Palm, the Chief Executive Officer of the Citadel Hospital at Aladjo observed that “we have sat in this court and have watched from beginning to end the videos and audios throughout and have noted that the period of recording indicated consistently 2013.”

He said “Our submission is that prima-facie this recording cannot by any stretch of the word be said to be relevant or related to prove the existence of commission of events between 2018 and 2019.

He argued further that, the hard drive which showed that the events were recorded in 2013 should be rejected outright.

Human Rights violations

While associating himself with the submissions of counsel for A1, Lawyer Victor Kodjogah Adawudu who is representing A2, A3,A7 and A9 added that “the videos and the audios we have watched on the hard drive about 70 videos each with its date and time. Each video contained date, time and events and roles played by different personalities some of whom include the accused persons. If this is being rendered as a composite hard drive every piece of this evidence that we have watched must meet the admissibility criteria.”

“It is our position that the hard drive or pieces of evidence that have been shown should be admitted individually so that it will meet the criteria of admissibility.”

Lawyer Adawudu argued further that, “The pieces of videos we have seen that are being rendered, violate the fundamental human rights of the accused persons.

“This was obtained in violation of the accused persons’ rights by indulging in secret recording. The Supreme Court has made pronouncements on secret recordings. We are saying also that in one of the videos one of the accused persons made a telephone call with a third party and that phone call has been recorded without any permission,” he argued.

He added that “It is on record that before the commencement of the secret recording by the witness PW1 and PW2 told the court that, they had meetings at national security on the modalities of the investigations and recording of the alleged perpetrators,” he noted.

The recordings he said were obtained without a warrant which is contrary to Article 18:2 of the constitution.

Counsel for A4, Lawyer Anthony Lartey for his part argued against the tendering of all the videos and audios on the ground that they are not original as per section 165 of the Evidence Act.

He argued that these videos and audios are not original because they are not the unedited or raw footage of what was allegedly recorded by the witness.

All the other defence lawyers associated themselves with the submissions made and urged the court to reject the recordings.

Relevant documents

The Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Mrs Yvonne Atakora Obuobisa, said, the documents the witness sought to tender are relevant as it pertained to his credibility as a witness.

According to the DPP, the witness has talked about certain acts he was inclined in which are extremely important to the determination of this case and excluding this evidence will jeopardize the understanding of this entire case.

She said, per Section 51:1 of the Evidence Act, it is relevant and must be admitted.

On the issue as to the time the videos were recorded, she said, “This tape was procured by the Ghana Armed Forces and have the original.”

“The 2013 that comes on the video is the original date of the device and the original date when it was first used. The fact that this date has not changed strengthens the case of the prosecution and lends credence to the fact that the dates were not altered or changed in any way,” she stated.

Source: Kasapafmonline.com/Murtala Inusah