Family of Ghanaian arrested in Ukraine pleads for his release

BY: Issah Mohammed
Mr Ishmael Toff-Mensah
Mr Ishmael Toff-Mensah

The family of Mr Ishmael Toff-Mensah, a Ghanaian being held in Ukranian prison since July 28, 2018, is calling on government to investigate and help secure his release.

Mr Toff-Mensah, a 32-year old Ghanaian and a former student of Pope John Senior High School, is currently a Master of Business Administration student at the University of Ghana. He was interdicted at a Ukrainian airport when he travelled to visit a nephew studying in Ukraine.

His sister, Ms Maame Borsah Barikisu Toff-Mensah, in an interview with the Daily Graphic, said her brother was impressed upon to visit his nephew by the family as he was reluctant to do so.

“He didn’t want to go and we even had to force him to visit his nephew”, she said.

She said her brother travelled to Ukraine from Accra on July 27, made a transit at Istanbul before arriving in Kiev on July 28, 2018.

He then notified the family of his safe arrival via social media chat and also indicated that he was held up at immigration check.


Immigration hold-up

The hold up, according to Ms Toff-Mensah, lasted 14 hours where the nephew in Ukraine had to be called to come pick the luggage brought by Mr Toff-Mensah from Ghana.

“They said the luggage was too much and they asked him if he was surely going to return. He even showed them his student identification card just to prove to them that he was going to return to his country”, she said.

While detained at the airport, she revealed, her brother was made to sign a document written in a Ukrainian language, which he didn’t understand and was told it was for his deportation.

“After everything, they asked him to go. My nephew was then at the airport waiting for him. My brother stepped out of the airport and gave his stuff to my nephew and then a car came to pick him up” she added.

She indicated that he was whisked away to a police cell and later moved to the Lukyanivska Prison in Kiev where a preliminary hearing was held on July 30 with an adjourned sitting set for September 12, 2018.

Lukyanivska Prison, Kyiv

Deteriorating conditions

She said the family was worried about the deteriorating condition of their relative, who was being fed with bread and sugar solution.

“They took $100 dollars from him to put him in the wardens’ quarters and just a week ago they demanded another $200, which he didn’t have and he has now been mixed up with the inmates” she added

Moreover, the family has been denied contact with their relative for over a week now, she said.

Family Efforts

Efforts by the family, according to Ms Toff- Mensah, to rescue the fifth and only male child among six children, have so far not been successful.

She said the family had already contacted the Ghanaian Consul in Ukraine, sent a petition to the Ministry of foreign Affairs and Regional Integration and also arranged for a lawyer in Ukraine to defend the brother.

The situation, she said, has also worsened the medical condition of their mother who is hypertensive and has been in-and-out of the hospital.

“They should bring him home. I need my brother home. He is not there to do anything”, Ms Toff-Mensah pleaded.