The judge presiding over the trial of Gregory Afoko, the man accused of killing a former Upper East Regional Chairman of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Alhaji Adams Mahama, says he will not tolerate any delays.
Mr Justice Lawrence L. Mensah has stated that his earlier deadline for the trial to end by June this year still holds and, therefore, all parties involved in the case must ensure an expeditious trial.
Justice Mensah restated his determination at the Accra High Court on Monday when the prosecutor, Mr Matthew Amponsah, a Chief State Attorney, prayed for an adjournment.
The prosecutor was expected to present his ninth witness, but he rather asked the court to adjourn the case for one day to enable him to attend a training programme for lawyers.
Although Justice Mensah granted Mr Amponsah’s request, he reminded the prosecutor about the deadline given.
“The June deadline still holds. Make sure you go by the timetable,’’ Justice Mensah told him.
Mr Amponsah told the court that the prosecution would finish its case on time because the seven prosecuting witnesses left to testify would not give lengthy testimonies.
Hearing continues today.
Alhaji Mahama suffered severe bodily injury after a substance suspected to be acid was allegedly poured on him in front of his house in Bolgatanga around 11 p.m. on May 20, 2015.
He later died from the injuries.
Afoko has denied any involvement in the murder and pleaded not guilty to two counts of murder and conspiracy to commit murder.
Delays and deadline
Afoko’s trial commenced at the High Court in April 2016, after more than a year of committal proceedings at the Accra District Court.
It initially suffered many adjournments as a result of two medical examinations that were conducted on Afoko to determine whether or not he was fit to stand trial.
In 2016, Alhaji Mahama’s family members petitioned the chief justice to remove Justice Mensah from the case and assign a new judge.
One of the reasons for the petition was Justice Mensah’s insistence that all parties and witnesses should be present in the courtroom at exactly 9 a.m.
The family contended that it would be impossible for most of the witnesses who resided in Bolgatanga in the Upper East Region to meet the judge’s order.
The petition was, however, thrown out by the chief justice, who stated that the petition did not warrant a change of judge.
After the initial hurdles, the trial continued smoothly.
Eight prosecution witnesses, including Alhaji Mahama’s wife, Hajia Zainabu Adams, have so far given their evidence-in -chief and also been cross-examined by defence counsel.
In January 2018, Justice Mensah called on both the prosecution and the defence team to ensure an expeditious trial, insisting that the trial must not travel beyond June 2018
“This case will not travel beyond June and I urge you both to try hard to collaborate with the court so that we see the end of it,’’ he urged the prosecution and the defence teams.