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Court orders psychiatric examination of alleged JB killer

BY: Emmanuel Hawkson

Daniel Asiedu, the suspected murderer of the Member of Parliament (MP) for Abuakwa-North, Mr J.B. Danquah-Adu, is to undergo a psychiatric examination to ascertain his mental fitness to stand trial.

The psychiatric examination was ordered by the Accra High Court on Monday following a prayer by Asiedu’s lawyer, Mr Augustine Obour, who had argued that he believed his client was not mentally sound.

According to counsel, the interactions he had had with Asiedu clearly proved that he was deranged and, therefore, there was the need for a psychiatric examination to clarify the issue.

“My client can call me and tell me that he is going to be made a Chief at a town in Akuapem so he wants me to come and serve the guests with food,” he said.

Counsel also mentioned Asiedu’s insistence on a lawyer from the International Criminal Court (ICC) to defend him as another example of why he believed he should be examined by a psychiatrist.

Psychiatric examination

Mr Danquah-Adu was murdered at his residence at Shiashie near Accra on February 9, 2016.

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Prosecutors have charged Asiedu and another suspect, Vincent Bosso with conspiracy to commit robbery, while Asiedu has been charged separately with murder and robbery.

This is not the first time Mr Obour has requested for a psychiatric examination on Asiedu.

He made a similar application before the Accra Central District Court during the first committal proceedings of the accused persons in 2016, but the presiding magistrate dismissed the application.

At Monday's hearing, the High Court was expected to take the plea of Asiedu and Bosso and also empanel a seven-member jury which would determine their fate during the trial.

Mr Obour, however, told the court that taking the plea of an accused person who had exhibited traces of mental instability would not be in the interest of justice.

Opposition

In her response, the prosecutor, Mrs Sefakor Batse, a Principal State Attorney, urged the court not to grant the application.

 It was her contention that Asiedu had not demonstrated anything exceptional to convince the court that he was mentally unsound.

“I believe it’s too early to bring this up. There is nothing to show that A1 (Asiedu) is of unsound mind,” she submitted.

Application granted

The presiding judge, Justice George Buadi, in his ruling, granted the application and ordered a psychiatric examination of Asiedu.

He held that the mental fitness of an accused person was a prerequisite to a fair trial and that it was important for Asiedu to have the mental capability to understand and appreciate the court proceedings.

Justice Buadi further said Asiedu’s persistent request for lawyers from the ICC to defend him and his general utterances meant that he did not fully appreciate the court’s proceedings.

“In accordance with Section 133 (1) of Act 30, I am not certain that the first accused is of sound mind to stand trial or to plea to the charges without a scientific examination. It is, therefore, prudent to hold on to the trial and order that the first accused should be medically examined,“ the presiding judge ruled.

Per the court’s order, the psychiatric examination must be conducted by the Accra Psychiatric Hospital and the hospital must submit its report to the court by May 27, 2019.

The court further ordered the Registrar of the court to deliver the orders of the court to the hospital by today. Hearing continues on June 3, 2019.