First Accused person in the case of the Republic verses Eugene Baffoe-Bonnie and four others says he wrote and signed five (5) out of ten (10) caution statements taken from him by investigator under duress, intimidation and threats.
His lawyer, Thaddeus Sory, made this known to the trial Court when he opposed the tendering of the five (5) caution statements by State prosecutors through their sixth prosecution witness who is the Police Officer who investigated the case, Detective Chief Inspector Michael Nkrumah.
Detective Chief Inspector Michael Nkrumah earlier on in his evidence indicated that he inherited the case docket from Detective Sergeant Marcus Yawle whose tenure at the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) had ended. He said to the court that when he took over the case docket, the first accused person had already given three (3) statements on caution, the second accused person had already given one (1)caution statement and the third accused person had also given one (1) caution statement. At the time however, the fourth accused person had not been arrested yet. The fifth accused person had also given three (3) ordinary statements.
Detective Chief Inspector Michael Nkrumah stated in Court that when he took over the investigations, he took six (6) more caution statements from the first accused person, in addition to one (1) charge statement. He took five (5) caution statements from the second accused person in addition to one (1) charge statement. Four (4) additional caution statements he said were taken from the third accused person plus one (1) charge statement. Four (4) caution statements where taken from the fourth accused person in addition to one (1) charge statement and four (4) caution statements where taken from the fifth accused person in addition to one (1) charge statement.
Argument by Defence Lawyers
In all, the first accused person, Eugene Baffoe-Bonnie has written and signed ten (10) statements that the State intends to tender in exhibits in support of their case. Lawyers for the accused person are however challenging the admissibility of five (5) of the Statements. In his opposing argument, the defence lawyer stated that the Statements of the first Accused person was taken without any reference to him of his right to counsel of his choice. He further argued that the constitutional Obligation to inform the first accused person of his right to a lawyer of his choice was in breach of Article 14 of the 1992 Constitution of the Republic, and therefore a breach of his fundamental human rights.
“At the time of taking the statement, there was no independent witness present. The statement was extracted from the first accused person by the use of threats, inducement, and duress” lawyer Thaddeus Sory told the Court.
In her counter argument to the claims of lawyers for the first Accused person, The learned Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Yvonne Atakora Buabisa argued that the first accused person was reminded of his right to Counsel before the statements were taken and in his own handwriting on the phase of the caution statements indicated that he was reminded of his right to counsel.
Justice Eric Kyei Baffour’s Court in its ruling said the claims that the first accused person, Eugene Baffoe-Bonnie, wrote and signed all the caution statements the State intends to tender as exhibits under duress, threats and inducement can only be determined in a mini trial. He ruled that a mini trial would be conducted in the midst of the ongoing trial to determine same. The Court also refused to admit the theee (3) ordinary statements given by the fifth accused person as exhibits as prayed by State prosecutors. The Court explained that at the time the ordinary statements were taken, the fifth accused person was not charged yet. The State the Court said had the option of using the fifth accused person as a witness but choose to rather charge him after further investigations. The State can therefore not turn back to use the ordinary statements taken by investigators as evidence against the fifth accused person.The Court adjourned sitting to the 5th of March 2019 for the mini trial to commence. The substantive trial stands suspended till the mini trial has been determined.
Source: Ghana/Starrfm.com.gh/Wilberforce Asare