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Judges vacate bench ahead of demonstration

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Chief Justice Georgina Wood

Judges in Accra on Monday vacated the courts following safety concerns ahead of a protest march by the Northern Youth for Justice against the verdict that freed 15 accused persons charged with the murder of the Ya-Na in March 2002.

As at 1030 hours, the 28th February Courts, also known as the Cocoa Affairs Court, the Fast Track High Courts and the entire Supreme Court building had been deserted.

While few Court Clerks were seen at post, the courts were locked. Some policemen who escorted accused persons went back when they learned of the situation.

“We are told that the Chief Justice had called all the judges to a meeting so we had to take dates (for adjournment),” a lawyer told the GNA.

Speaking to the media over the absence of the judges in the courts, Mr Justice Alex Opoku-Acheampong, the Judicial Secretary, said judges were at post in the morning.

He said the Chief Justice, Mrs Georgina Theodora Wood, in anticipation of the said demonstration and presentation of the petition by the demonstrators, called for special protection from the police.

According to him, when the judges returned to post at about 0930 hours, “there was no police presence and some of the judges expressed concern about their safety as no one could predict the outcome of the said demonstration”.

Mr Justice Opoku-Acheampong said at the meeting it was agreed that with lack of protection from the police, judges who felt unsafe could go home because there was a lot of anxiety among the judges.

He assured the public that judges would be sitting from Tuesday and “they will go by the normal police protection”.

On the safety of Mr Justice E.K. Ayebi, the judge who presided over the alleged Ya-Na killers’ case, the Judicial Secretary said the service had offered him additional protection and appealed to the public to understand the processes of seeking redress.

“It is not proper to attack judges. As we seek to deepen our democracy we must go by the procedures of handling issues,” he added.

Source: GNA

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