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Judicial Corruption: Mahama calls for "fair trial" for indicted officials

BY: Samuel K. Obour
President John Mahama

President John Mahama has thrown his weight behind an investigative report undertaken by journalist Anas Aremeyaw Anas, which appeared to show about 180 workers in the judiciary, including 34 judges, receiving bribes to manipulate the outcome of cases.

In the two-year investigation, Anas obtained video recordings that appeared to capture those officials committing the crimes. Of the 34 judges captured in the video, 12 were justices of the High Court, while 22 were circuit and district court judges.

The President, who was commenting on the development for the first time, called for "a fair investigation and a fair trial", which he said the indicted officials had denied others.

“I always supported, and will always support the rule of law and our justice system. What we uncovered these days is that some people, judges, judicial officers and policemen, seemed to be willing to transgress the principles of a fair justice, to their own interest,” he wrote in a Facebook post Wednesday.

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“Such persons should be subjected to what they, perhaps, denied others: a fair investigation and a fair trial. Sometimes the principles are to be re-learned the hard way, because justice should always be served.”

President Mahama echoed concerns that have been raised by some legal experts to the effect that the accused officials should be deemed innocent until they are proved guilty by a court of competent jurisdiction.

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“We must also understand that this is a problem of some people who may or may not be guilty: it’s for the investigators and the judges to decide,” he said.

Stressing that those captured in the video ostensibly receiving bribes formed only a small percentage of workers in the judiciary, The President said: “…this is not a problem of our judicial system as a whole. This is not something to make us lose our faith in the judicial system.”

He said: “On the contrary, the investigations that began these days prove beyond doubt that our justice system is intact and working, served by many people with integrity and determination.

“I urge every one of you to keep faith in the system. Justice will always prevail!”

The Anas video, which was screened at the Accra International Conference Centre last week, has provoked a firestorm of consternation and outrage, with members of the public calling for decisive punitive action against those indicted.