Kasoa ritual murder trial - Judge threatens to issue bench warrant for arrest of juror
THE judge hearing the case in which two teenagers have been accused of the murder of a 10-year-old boy in Kasoa for money rituals has threatened to issue a bench warrant for the arrest of one of the jurors who failed to show up in Court yesterday.
The trial, which was set to commence on March 7 this year, delayed by two days as a family member of one of the accused persons failed to show up at the Criminal Division of the High Court in Accra.
When the case was called yesterday for the prosecution to finally start the trial with its first witness, one person from the seven-member jury was absent.
The foreman (leader) of the seven-member jury, informed the court that the juror, who is a member of staff of the Department of Social Welfare, had notified him that he was unable to continue hearing the matter.
The presiding judge, Justice Lydia Osei Marfo, who had previously reminded the jurors of their constitutional duty to always appear for the trial, was upset about the sudden excuse from the juror.
“We do not play games here. If I give you time to appear, it means I have put everything on hold.
Do you understand the implications of this?”
“You have disrespected the court. Tell him to come else I will issue a bench warrant for his arrest.
I am not going back,” the judge said, Justice Marfo added that the jury trial system was not a joke.
“He should know he is duty bound to be part of this trial.
This is a constitutional duty and he cannot afford to stay in his office and issue orders in this matter.”
“The said juror should appear on the next adjourned date (March 13) otherwise bench warrant will be issued,” the presiding judge added.
The two teenagers have pleaded not guilty to the charge of conspiracy and murder.
They are said to have murdered Ishmael Mensah Abdallah on April 3, 2021, for ritual purposes, after they allegedly lured him into an uncompleted building and killed him with a club and cement block.
The seven-member jury was empaneled in October 2022. The jury is made up of seven ordinary, but educated persons, who, subject to the directions of the judge, decide the guilt or innocence of an accused in a case tried upon indictment.
Swearing in the jurors in October last year, Justice Marfo advised the jury to be present in court at all times to listen to, see and hear the witnesses that would be called by the prosecution in their quest to establish the guilt of the accused persons.
All jurors must be present in the courtroom before any proceeding in a trial by jury takes place.
Also, when a jury is absent, the trial does not take place.
Per the reasons given by the foreman in court yesterday, if the jury continues to absent himself, it would mean that the trial would have to start from scratch.
The accused persons would have to take their pleas before a newly constituted jury.