The Accra High Court on Thursday failed to empanel a seven-member jury that will decide the fate of the 14 persons accused of killing Major Maxwell Adam Mahama at Denkyira Obuasi
That was after some of the accused persons rejected eight out of the 14 potential jurors, who were presented to them for consideration.
In exercise of their rights, four of the accused persons—William Baah, Kwame Tuffour, Joseph Appiah Kubi and Bismark Abanga—objected to the selection of eight out of the 14 potential jurors, leading to the selection of six jurors, which fell short of the required seven.
Baah rejected two female potential jurors, Tuffour two females, Kubi rejected two males and a female, while Abanga rejected a female potential juror.
The six jurors selected were two females and four males.
The 14 accused persons have pleaded not guilty to charges such as attempted murder, conspiracy to commit murder and murder.
Under Ghana’s legal system, their innocence or guilt is supposed to be determined by seven individuals, selected from a pool of people, known as the jury, and not a judge.
Each accused person, however, has the right to reject three potential jurors without any explanation, but after the three, any rejection must be backed by a tangible reason.
In his submission after his clients rejected some of the potential jurors, lawyer for Tuffour and Kubi, Mr Augustine Obour, prayed the court to ensure that there was a balance of males and females in the jury selection pool.
“Blend them so that we can have a choice,” counsel suggested.
But his submission was refuted by the prosecutor, Mrs Evelyn Keelson, a Chief State Attorney, who argued that the law did not stipulate such a requirement.
“The law says you can be a juror at the age of 25 years or above. There is nothing like blending a juror,” she explained.
With the court failing to empanel seven jurors as required by law, the presiding judge, Mrs Justice Mariama Owusu, a justice of the Court of Appeal, with additional responsibility as a High Court judge, adjourned the case to April 16, 2018.
On that day, five possible jurors are expected to be presented to the court for one to be selected.
Thirty-two-year-old Major Mahama, who was part of an operation to clamp down on illegal mining activities, popularly known as galamsey, was lynched at Denkyira Obuasi on May 29, 2017.