Police narrates how cocaine vessel MV Benjamin was burnt down
Detective Chief Inspector Baluba Baba, a Police Investigator, on Thursday narrated how the Police investigated circumstances surrounding the burning down of the MV Benjamin vessel used to cart 77 parcels of cocaine in the year 2006.
Detective Inspector Baba said the Police was informed that after the parcels of cocaine were off loaded from the vessel into an unregistered Mercedes Benz van, the vessel was burnt down.
He said the Police took pictures of the debris of the vessel and tendered the pictures in court.
According to the witness, the Police gathered information that the vessel belonged to one Joseph Kojo Dawson who was currently serving 25 years imprisonment at the Nsawam Medium Prisons.
Detective Chief Inspector Baba said this when he mounted the witness box to testify before an Accra Fast Track High Court in the case of Asem Darkey, a businessman, allegedly to be the owner of the 77 parcels of cocaine on board the MV Benjamin vessel.
Darkey (also known as Sherriff and limping man) is on trial for conspiracy, importation of narcotic drugs, possession of narcotic drugs without lawful authority and undertaking prohibited business relating to narcotic drugs.
He has pleaded not guilty and is currently on remand.
Detective Chief Inspector Baba said Joseph K Dawson owned Dashment Company Limited at Tema.
When the Police proceeded to Dashment Company in Tema, witness said he met the father of Joseph Dawson who confirmed that Darkey charted the MV Benjamin vessel.
Witness told the court that Darkey prepared a chartered agreement, which parties appended their signatures.
The signing of the agreement, he said, was done at the office of Darkey’s lawyers, adding he (Darkey) signed for one Charwatey.
Detective Chief Inspector Baba said the Police also conducted further checks on the business being run by Darkey. According to the witness, Darkey told the Police that he own a company known as Atico Fisheries Limited.
He said investigations revealed that Atico Fisheries was housed in a building but there was no indication that the office was functional and office complex had various kiosks.
Witness said further investigations revealed that Darkey before absconding ransacked his office and home.
A search conducted at the Registrar Generals Department indicated that Darkey obtained Certificate of registration and commencement of business.
Answering questions under cross examination by Mr George Heward-Mills, Detective Chief Inspector Baba admitted not seeing the 77 parcels of cocaine on board the MV Benjamin vessel.
When defence counsel suggested to the witness that one parcel left on board the vessel did not bear the inscription fish and shrimps, witness said he never had the opportunity to see that.
Detective Chief Inspector Baba said on April 26, 2006, intelligence gathered by the security indicated that a shipping vessel, MV Benjamin, carrying 77 parcels of cocaine was on the high seas heading towards the West African Coast and to Ghana.
Around midnight the same day, the vessel docked at Tema/Kpone and discharged the parcels, which were off-loaded into a waiting vehicle and taken away. Investigations led to the arrest of some people, who were tried and convicted.
During the trial, the name of the accused featured prominently as the importer and owner of the parcels.
Further investigations revealed that he chartered the MV Benjamin for $150,000.00 to bring the narcotic drugs to the country.
On Thursday, February 2, 2012 the accused was arrested at the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital upon a tip-off.