Seven-member jury sworn in to commence Afoko trial
A seven-member jury have been sworn in as part of the processes preceding the trial of Gregory Afoko and Asabke Alangde for the murder of Mr Adams Mahama, former Upper East Regional chairman of the New Patriotic Party before an Accra High Court.
The two, Afoko and Asabke are before the court on the charges of conspiracy to commit crime to wit murder and murder, to which they have both pleaded not guilty.
The jury consists of three males and four females.
Earlier, Counsel for Afoko, Mr Stephen Sowah Charwey, holding the brief for Mr Safo Boabeng, prayed the court to afford his client some time to at least carry out some background checks on the members of the jury.
He said his client did not know the background of these people and would be happy if he is given some time to carry out his checks so that he can exercise his statutory rights to challenge any nomination.
“It is only fair for the accused to be accorded this respect for the counsel to look into the background so that in their interest they can challenge with cause.
Counsel for Asabke, Mr Andrew Kudzo Vortia also argued that it was within their rights under the challenge of cause to be allowed to do the background checks.
The prosecution, Ms Marina Appiah Oppong, a Chief State Attorney, disagreed with the lawyers saying, what counsels were suggesting was not and has never been the procedure.
She said their suggestions were not practicable and that the court should stick to the procedure provided by Act 30. The law does not provide for background checks to be done on the seven-member jurors before they are empanelled.
“The accused persons had the privilege of rejecting three jurors, and the rest he had no challenge. The seven members have been empanelled as required by law. Counsel for Afoko never at any point raised the challenge for cause. We have passed that stage and his application has no basis in law.”
She said there was no provision for background checks to be done, and since they are going by what the law says, what counsels for the accused were asking for was not provided for in Act 30.
The court overruled the prayers of defence counsel, saying sections 250 of Act 30, states that the accused persons shall be allowed to challenge three jurors without any reason. If any of the accused persons had raised an objection to a fourth person, he would have been given the chance to give reasons, but in this instance since there was no such challenge, the objection is no tenable.
The court also ordered the Bureau of National Investigations to allow Counsel for Asabke ample time with his clients. Five hours in total at one hour per session.
This was after Mr Vortia had told the court that the 15 minutes provided by the BNI was grossly inadequate, and that, he would require an hour per a session interaction time with his client.
The matter has since been adjourned to July 26th.
The facts of the case as read by the prosecution, Ms Appiah Oppong said Afoko is a farmer while Asabke is a butcher both residents of Bolgatanga in the Upper East Region.
He explained that Afoko is the younger brother of Mr Paul Afoko, former Chairman of the NPP whilst Alangdi was a member of the youth wing of the party.
He said both accused persons were known to Adams, the deceased, thus, on May 20, 2015, at about 2300hours, the deceased in his car had arrived from his construction site and was asked to stop in front of his house by two men.
She said, the two signaled him to roll down the side glass of the vehicle and he obliged but they immediately poured some acid on him which made him scream from the burning sensation to attract his wife’s attention after which the two bolted.
She said, Adams sustained burns on the head, face and body whereas the wife who assisted him out of the car also had burns on the breasts and chest.
The prosecution said she asked who had done this to him and he mentioned Afoko and Alangdi.
She said Adams’ then called for help which attracted sympathizers, who conveyed him to the Bolgatanga Regional Hospital, where he died the next day at the Intensive Care Unit.
Ms Appiah Oppong said the matter was referred to the police and a plastic cup, a gallon of some acid as well as clothes belonging to the deceased were collected for investigations and also the car seat was also soaked with some of the liquid.
She said a track suit and other items believed to be for the accused persons’ were also taken at the scene by the police.
She said, they were then sent to the Ghana Standards Authority for examination and it was confirmed that the liquid was acid.
The Prosecution said based on this information, Afoko was arrested who led police to Alangdi’s house but he had escaped.
She said on May 15, 2015, a Pathologist, Dr Lawrence Adusei’s autopsy report indicated that Adams suffered shock and extensive acid burns.
Afoko was standing trial until Alangdi was arrested on January 25 in Cote D’ivore with the help of the Interpol and handed over to Ghana.
Mrs Appiah Oppong said the trial of Afoko had been discontinued as nolle prosecui had been entered by the Attorney-General for the two accused persons to go through trial together.