State substitutes facts and charges in piracy case

LawThe State on Thursday at the Accra magistrate Court substituted the fact sheets concerning the alleged Nigerian pirates following the arrest of two additional persons.

Initially, the state charged eight persons for piracy but with the arrest of the two other accused persons the number of the suspected pirates is now 10 while two are at large.

The state has now added an additional conspiracy to commit crime to the earlier charge of piracy.

The court, presided over by Ms Efua Sackey, has also repeated the order given to the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) to grant access to the counsel of the alleged Nigerian pirates to meet them.

As part of the order, Mr Uche Nwosu, the counsel for the accused persons, would have the opportunity to have conference with his clients, twice a week on Tuesday and Friday from 0900 hours 1400 hours.

The court, made the order, after the counsel complained to the court that he has been denied access to meet with his clients, after their last court appearance.

Chief Inspector Patrick Hanson told the court that the complainant in the case is the Chief Executive Officer of Maxweir limited, the company operating MT Mariam, whilst the accused persons include a freight forwarder, sailor and unemployed men from Ghana and Nigeria.

He said on January 17, the vessel MT Mariam loaded with 1,500 metric tons of low petroleum fuel oil worth 217, 912 million dollars was travelling from Lagos, Nigeria to Lome, Togo when the accused persons launched their attacked.

The prosecution said the accused persons were holding three AK47 guns, one pump action and a K2 rifle to attack nine crew members on board.

He said stealing the oil took five hours and all this while the crew members were taken hostage and subjected to various degrees of inhuman treatment.

“The inhuman treatment includes assault with butts of the weapon, restricting their movement, preventing them from communicating to themselves,” he added.

He said they forced the “captured “captain to pilot the vessel to a position “convenient” to them and stole the cargo unto another vessel marked M.T INVICTUS, where two of the alleged pirates joined the vessel with the oil and sped off.

Chief Inspector Hanson said the complainant with a marine vessel tracking device located the vessel heading towards Ghanaian territorial waters.

He said the leader of the group managed to get the complainant on phone and threatened to use the vessel for another operation in Liberia.

“Before leaving he instructed the rest to keep watch over the crew till they return to pick them,” he added.

The prosecution said it was whilst waiting that, the personnel of the Ghana Navy came to their rescue after a distress call had been made and the accused persons arrested.

The weapons were seized and retained for evidential purposes.

He said the MT. INVICTUS vessel has been arrested together with the MT. APECUS currently with the stolen oil all at the Tema harbour breakwater.

The accused persons are George Opata Okrah, Joel Yaw Attah, Captain Mike (at Large) Abaiyi (at Large), Molih Williams, Molih Klinsman, Peggy Aki, Ebiyaibo Amos, David Jacobs, Apetimiyi Oyinie, Pinano Saniyo and Picolo John.

Source: GNA

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