Attorney General briefs Parliament on the catastrophes of Atiwa bye election
Earlier indication that the driver in the “Atiwa bye election catastrophe” had intended to drive dangerously and negligently in order to cause harm was inaccurate, Mr Martin Amidu, Attorney General and Minister of Justice said.
The Minister who was speaking on the floor of Parliament at question time on Thursday said the driver was rather galloping for safety from attackers as he meandered through milling agitators at perceived available space.
“It was evidenced that the mob created a very dangerous situation after stopping the vehicle that could not have been foreseen by the suspect driver,” he said.
A bye election on the August 31 2010 at Atiwa Constituency as a result of the demise of the Member of Parliament engendered into disturbances allegedly caused by some non-residents of the area perceived to be supporters of National Democratic Congress (NDC).
A resident perceived to be a member of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) got injured leading to massing up of a mob or vigilante which gathered at the outskirt of Abomosu to pursue non-residents entering the town.
The question stemmed from Mr Kwasi Amoako-Attah, member for Atiwa, who wanted to know the status of the alleged case of Anita de Souza and her driver running over nine people at Abomosu during the Atiwa bye election.
The Justice Minister said the driver was driving a land cruiser Prado with a registration number GE 5440-10 from Abomosu township towards Ekorsu.
“Of seven eye-witnesses who made statements to the Police, only four of them gave eye witness account of what they saw happened before the incident involving the suspect’s vehicle,” he said.
“Three of the witnesses alleged that the vehicle was stopped for inspection. One out of these witnesses alleges that it was the Police who stopped the vehicle, whilst the other two witnesses alleged that it was the crowd or the mob that stopped the vehicle,” he said.
He explained further that the fourth witness merely said the suspect drove through a police barrier at a top speed and then though the mob and then lost control of the vehicle.
“Two of the four witnesses are consistent in their allegation that when the mob or crowd saw one Anita, National Women Organiser of the NDC, on board the front seat of the vehicle, they shouted: ‘this is one of the NDC members’ and decided to close the barrier when half of the vehicle had already crossed the barrier at the point it was stopped,” he told the parliamentarians.
“One of these two witnesses alleged that the vehicle then drove through the people at top speed and knocked most of them down,” he stated.
He noted that the second of these witnesses alleges that after Anita was spotted and recognized by some of the members of the mob, they shouted: ‘they don’t belong to us’ and ordered that the barrier should be closed and in the process the vigilante group started pelting stones sticks and all sort of objects at the vehicle which put the suspect driver and other occupants in the vehicle in great fear for their lives.
“The suspect driver in the spur of the moment drove his vehicle through what he perceived was an available space in order to drive to safety,” he said.
“It appears from the docket that it was in the process of escaping the irate vigilante crowd or mob attack on the vehicle and the lives of its occupants that a number of people from the vigilante crowd or bystanders were accidentally knocked down with some sustaining serious injuries,” he said.
According to the Minister, the docket disclosed only three medical reports having been returned by the victims of the accidents.
“Evidence on the docket leads to the irresistible conclusion that the incensed crowd attacked the vehicle after they had stopped it or slowed it down and one of its occupants was recognized as the NDC Women’s Organiser,” he said.
He argued that this was further borne out by the extent of damage disclosed by the accident report as having been caused to the vehicle when it was vandalized by the crowd or mob.
“It would have been otherwise if the suspect driver had driven through the crowd or mob at a tough speed,” he said.
“I have personally perused the police docket in this case and have come to the firm conclusion that the evidence on the docket cannot cogently support the offences of dangerous driving and negligently causing harm contrary to section 1 of the Road Traffic Act 2004 (Act 683) and the section 72 of the Criminal and Other Offences Act 1960 (Act 29) with which the suspect driver was cautioned,” he said.