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Coup plotters’ trial: Court orders suspects to open defence

BY: Justice Agbenorsi
Coup plotters’ trial: Court orders suspects to open defence
Coup plotters’ trial: Court orders suspects to open defence

The Accra High Court has directed the 10 people accused of plotting to overthrow the government to open their defence.

That was after the three-member panel of the court, presided over by Justice Afia Serwah Asare-Botwe, had dismissed a submission of ‘no case’ filed by the accused persons.

In its ruling yesterday, the court, which also had Justices Hafisata Amaleboba and Stephen Oppong as panel members, held that the submission of ‘no case’ had no merit because the prosecution had been able to establish a prima facie case against the 10 through its 13 witnesses.

The accused were, therefore, asked to answer to the allegations raised by the prosecution.

Not guilty

The accused persons are in court for allegedly taking part in the activities of Take Action Ghana (TAG), a non-governmental organisation (NGO) accused by the prosecution of planning to destabilise the country to take over the government.

They include Dr Frederic Mac-Palm, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Dr Benjamin Agordzo, Colonel Samuel Kodzo Gameli, Bright Alan Debrah Ofosu (a fleet manager), Johannes Zikpi (a civilian employee of the Ghana Armed Forces) and Donya Kafui, aka Ezor (a blacksmith).

The rest — Corporal Seidu Abubakar, Lance Corporal Ali Solomon, Corporal Sylvester Akanpewon and Warrant Officer II Esther Saan Dekuwine — are all soldiers.

ACP Dr Agordzo and Col Gameli have pleaded not guilty to abetment of high treason, while the rest have pleaded not guilty to high treason and conspiracy to commit high treason.

The prosecution has called 13 witnesses so far in the bid to prove its case.

Lawyers for the accused have also cross-examined the witnesses.

However, after the prosecution closed its case, the accused persons filed a submission of ‘no case’.

‘No case’

A submission of; no case; is a right granted to accused persons under Section 173 of the Criminal and Other Offences Act (Procedure) Act, 1960 (Act 30).

It allows accused persons to convince a court that the prosecution had failed to make a prima facie case to warrant the opening of their defence.

In the event a trial court finds merit in a submission of ‘no case’, the accused persons are discharged; if not, they are directed to open their defence.

A submission of ‘no case’ can be filed by an accused after the prosecution has brought its case to a close.

Orders

Aside from dismissing the submission of ‘no case’, the court gave the accused persons up to September 19, 2022, to file a list of all the witnesses they expected to call, and if they would require the assurance of the court to issue witness summons and subpoenas.

They are to also file their own witness statements and other relevant documents they intend to rely on.

Hearing continues on October 10, 2022.

Prosecution’s facts

It is the case of the prosecution that the accused persons used TAG as a platform to mobilise in order to destabilise the country and overthrow the government.

It said as part of the plot, Dr Mac-Palm, who is accused of being the mastermind, along with Kafui and Debrah, had planned to kidnap the President, the Vice-President, the Speaker of Parliament and the Chief of the Defence Staff and force the President to announce his overthrow.

“Again, there were discussions on whether or not to kill the President in the process of overthrowing the government,” the prosecution said.

With regard to ACP Agordzo, it said he joined a WhatsApp platform of TAG created by Dr Mac-Palm, where the group discussed a planned demonstration which was likened to the Arab Spring.

He said ACP Agordzo donated GH¢2,000 to TAG to aid its cause and also drafted a speech for Dr Mac-Palm to be read at the planned demonstration by TAG.