State awaits advice from Attorney-General in piracy case

LawThe Adjabeng District Magistrate’s Court has adjourned to April 1, the case involving the alleged eight Nigerian and two Ghanaian pirates.

The case was adjourned because the State was waiting for the advice of the Attorney-General’s Department on the duplicate docket.

The State, at the last adjourned date, substituted the fact sheets concerning the alleged Nigerian pirates following the arrest of two Ghanaians.

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. Two others are still 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, denied the bail application for the two Ghanaians filed by their lawyer.

At an earlier sitting, Chief Inspector Patrick Hanson told the court that the complainant was the Chief Executive Officer of Maxweir limited, the company operating MT Mariam, whilst the accused persons included 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 AK 47 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 held hostage and subjected to various degrees of inhuman treatment.

“The inhuman treatment includes assault with butts of the weapon, restricting their movement, and preventing them from communicating with each other,” 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 Ghana’s 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 said.

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 had been arrested together with the MT. APECUS currently with the stolen oil all at the Tema Harbour.

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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