The High Court handling the case in which two teenagers were accused of the murder of a 10-year-old boy in Kasoa for money rituals will no longer use jury trial for the determination of the case.
The court, which had originally set yesterday to empanel the jury, has instead indicated that it will resort to a summary trial for the accused persons instead of a trial by jury because of their ages.
The presiding judge, Justice Lydia Osei Marfo, said the court’s decision was in accordance with the Juvenile Justice Act, 2003 (ACT 653).
“Before today, I had stated we were going to empanel the jury for the trial of this matter. However, looking at the ages of the accused persons; one being 18 and the other 15 years, and considering the Juvenile Justice Act, it may not be necessary to have them tried by a jury,” the judge said on May 12, 2022.
The teenagers, a 15-year-old boy (name withheld) and his alleged accomplice, who is 18 years, were on August 16, 2021, committed by the Kaneshie District Court, presided over by Ms Rosemond Agyiri Duodoo, to stand trial at the High Court on the charge of murder.
What does this mean?
According to section 17 (3) of the Juvenile Justice Act, 2003 (Act 653), “A charge made jointly against a juvenile and a person who has attained the age of eighteen years shall be heard by a court of summary jurisdiction other than a juvenile court”.
With this latest development, it means that the two, if convicted, will face a maximum sentence of three years and the trial, which will last for six months, will also not be open to the media.
Consequently, the court has fixed May 26, 2022, for Case Management Conference and the dates for the trial to officially commence.
However, Martin Kpebu announced himself as the new legal representative for the 18-year-old suspect.
This was after Samuel Atuah, who had been representing the duo from the committal stages in 2021 through to the High Court, officially on May 11, said that he could only represent the 15-year-old suspect who confessed his involvement in the offence.
While the 15-year-old suspect has confessed to their involvement in the murder, the 18-year-old suspect on the other hand has since denied his involvement.
The two are said to have murdered Ishmael Mensah Abdallah on April 3, last year, for ritual purposes, after they had lured him into an uncompleted building.
They allegedly killed him with a club and a cement block.
The facts of the case, as presented at the Magistrate court, are that the two teenagers, who lived at Lamptey, had been friends since 2008.
The first accused is said to have been watching television channels which entertained Mallams and other spiritualists to promote their prowess in making people instant millionaires.
The accused, according to the prosecution, made his intention known to the 18-year-old, who advised that there was a certain spiritualist in the Volta Region who could do it for them.
"The second accused, who does not own a phone, provided the phone number of the said spiritualist to the first accused, who had access to his mother's phone.
"After contacting the said spiritualist, he agreed to help if only they could provide a human being and GH¢5,000 for the rituals," the prosecution said.
According to the prosecution, on Saturday, April 3, 2021, the accused persons settled on Ishmael, 10 years, 11 months, the son of the complainant, Frank Mensah Abdallah.
The second accused then went to hide in an uncompleted building near the first accused person's house where they planned to carry out their operation.
"The accused persons armed themselves with a club, a piece of cement block and a shovel as their weapons, and the first accused, who was close to Ishmael, lured him to the uncompleted building on the pretext that his friend had a video game that he was selling.
The 18-year-old, the prosecutor further said, then picked the club and hit Ishmael hard on the back of the neck, while the first accused (the 15-year-old) "used the cement block to hit his head, killing him instantly".
In the course of the act, the prosecution said the first accused's younger sister (eight) sensed that something was going on so she walked towards the direction of the uncompleted building but was driven away by her elder brother.
The prosecution added that after murdering Ishmael, the accused persons dug a shallow grave, buried the deceased and left the scene to return in the night to convey the body to the Volta Region for the rituals.