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State to appeal against cocaine case

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The State is to file an appeal in respect of the case in which 1,020 grammes of cocaine allegedly turned into sodium bicarbonate.

Mrs Stella Arhin, a State Attorney told the four-member fact finding committee set by the Chief Justice to investigate the circumstance under which cocaine, an exhibit in a case turned into Sodium bicarbonate on Friday.

She said she was surprised at the ruling of the Circuit Court, which eventually acquitted and discharged Nana Ama Martin following a submission of no case filed by her defence counsel.

Answering questions under cross-examination from lawyers of witnesses Mrs Arhin said out of her surprise, she informed her superiors about the development in the case.

The State Attorney said from the way she built up her case she knew that she was going to win the matter only for the court to discharge the accused, Nana Ama Martin.

She also expressed shock at the manner Nana Ama Martin secured bail in the sum of GH¢20,000 with sureties at the High Court when the offence under which she was being tried could not secure bail.

Mrs Arhin said she never sighted any notice of appeal served on the Attorney General‘s Department admitting that it was the Circuit Court that resurrected the trial of Nana Ama Martin.

She told the committee that it was however, not the Circuit Court that granted Nana Ama bail.

On the exhibit, Mrs Arhin said she was astonished at the results by the Ghana Standards Authority, which proved that the exhibit was negative because the Police Forensic Laboratory had indicated the substance was cocaine.

She said she forget to apply to the court to destroy the exhibit as soon as it was tendered in court.

Although the case investigator, Detective Constable Thomas Ayekase reminded her after closing from the court, but she felt that once cross-examination had not ended the destruction of the exhibit could be done afterwards.

When asked why she objected to the re-testing of the cocaine, she noted that it was too late for the defence to object because the exhibit had been tendered in evidence.

Earlier led in evidence by Mr Andrew Amegatcher, counsel to the committee, Mrs Arhin recalled that the case in question was assigned to her in 2009.

“After taking over the case, I requested Detective Constable Ayekase to organise the witnesses for the trial to start,” she said.

Mrs Arhin said sometime, she went to the Circuit Court only to see the case docket of Nana Ama Martin when she enquired about the case, was told that the accused had jumped bail and that it was Interpol that apprehended her to stand trial.

When the trial commenced, Mrs Arhin said she called five witnesses after requesting Detective Constable (DC) Joseph Owusu to take a charge statement from the accused person.

During the trial, the State Attorney said she tendered the drug and the Police Forensic Laboratory results through DC Ayekase.

She said when the drugs were brought to court they were sealed and it was only broken when it was tendered in evidence.

Mrs Arhin said the case was adjourned at the instance of the defence counsel, Mr Kwablah Senanu.

Afterwards Mrs Arhin told the committee that the drug was then left in the custody of the Court but she and defence counsel and Registrar of the Court signed and same was sealed with cellotape.

She intimated that the Head of Narcotics Control Unit, Criminal Investigations Department, DSP Kofi Adzei Tuadzera, had every cause to be alarmed over the inability of the Court to order for the destruction of the exhibit.

The State Attorney said she could not remember whether DC Ayeksase was on September 28, 2011 asked when the cocaine he tendered earlier was the same before the court.

On December 14, the Chief Justice, Mrs Justice Wood set up a committee of enquiry to probe how cocaine kept in the exhibit room at a registrar’s office of a Circuit Court turned into sodium-bicarbonate.

The cocaine exhibit tendered in evidence to the court was later found to be sodium bicarbonate leading to the discharge of the accused, Nana Ama Martin, who had been standing trial since 2008 for allegedly possessing a narcotic drug.

The Police and the Court are in a blame game, leading to a petition to the CJ to look into her stable for possible culprits.

The committee that was tasked to unravel the circumstances surrounding the matter is chaired by an Appeal Court Judge, Mrs Justice Agnes Dodzi. Other members are High Court Judge, Mr Justice Abdulai Iddrisu, the Chief Judicial Registrar, Mr Nii Boye Quartey and Deputy Director of Human Resources of Judicial Service, Mr John Bannerman.

Source: GNA

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