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Takoradi missing girls: Judgment Day today

BY: Dotsey Koblah Aklorbortu & Augustina Dzodzegbe
The three missing girls
The three missing girls

The Sekondi High Court will today decide the fate of two Nigerian nationals, Samuel Udoetuk Wills and John Oji, who are standing trial for the murder of four girls in Takoradi.

The High Court presided over by Justice Richard Adjei-Frimpong, an Appeals Court Judge with additional responsibility as High Court judge, fixed the date after prosecution and the defense counsels addressed the court.

Seven-member jury

The trial judge is expected to sum-up evidences adduced in court and adduced by the parties in the case to pave the way for the seven-member jury to return a guilty or not guilty verdict.

The jury would deliberate on whether or not the offences levelled against the accused persons would enable the court to proceed to either convict or free them based on the jurors’ decision.

Earlier, the prosecution led by Chief State Attorney, Ms Patience Klinogo, had urged the jury to consider all the evidence levelled against the accused persons as they prepare to brief the court.

The prosecution, she said, had successfully proved all the offences against both accused persons beyond all reasonable doubt and the only possible verdict in this case was guilty on all the four-counts of conspiracy and all four counts of murder against both of the accused persons.

Verdict of guilty

“I, therefore, urge you to return a verdict of guilty against both accused persons on each of the eight counts after my Lord has summed-up the case to you,” Ms Klinogo said.

She said in the light of the evidence adduced, “we submit that the two accused persons agreed to act together in this case with one common purpose of committing the offence of murder through the means of kidnapping the four girls and killing them”.

Ms Klinogo said the offence of murder as set out in Section 47 of Act 29/60 stated that, “a person who intentionally causes the death of another person by an unlawful harm commits murder, unless the murder is reduced to manslaughter by reason of an extreme provocation, or any other matter of partial excuse, as mentioned in Section 52”.

She told the court that by that definition and by the particulars of the offences in the bill of indictment in this case, the prosecution had proven the following element: That the four victims, namely Ruth Abeka, Priscilla Blessing Bentum, Ruth Love Quayson and Priscilla Mantebea Koranchie are dead.

Death of the victims

The prosecutor said the death of the victims was as a result of harm inflicted on them and that it was the accused persons who inflicted the unlawful harm on the four victims.

Also in her submission, the Chief State Attorney said the harm caused was unlawful or could not be justified and the accused persons caused the unlawful harm intentionally; “that is, with intent to cause the death of the victims. There was no extreme provocation or other matter of partial excuse”.

However, in his address to the jury, the defence counsels for the two accused persons debunked all the claims saying that the prosecution was not able to prove the offence of murder against the two.

The defense counsel for the second accused person, Mr Samuel Agbota, submitted that it was not right that Oji, who used an alibi, was not given the chance to prove his case.

Burden of proof

He said under the circumstances, the burden of prove or veracity of the alibi fell on the prosecution and not the accused since he was in confinement from the day of his arrest and there was no chance to prove the alibi.

He said it was not acceptable if the prosecution claimed that the four girls died as a result of harm, saying, “the prosecution was not able to adduce any credible evidence that the four victims died as a result of harm caused by the two accused persons”.

Mr Agbota said there was also no evidence that the remains of the victims were in the house of Wills since the remains were retrieved from different areas (a well and cesspit) at different locations in the metropolis, adding that, “The offence of murder was not proven by prosecution”.

Counsel for the second accused who spoke for both said, it was interesting that one of the accused, Samuel Wills, who the prosecution did not trust, was able to provide them information leading to the arrest of the second accused.

“It was also interesting that, after the retrieval of the alleged social media conversation, the prosecution did not seek the expertise of an IT professional to prove their case,” he said.

He urged the court to weigh the evidence before them and return a good verdict.