Five cocaine suspects whose arrest and trial in Accra generated a lot of controversy are to be extradited to the United Kingdom (UK) to face trial with three others who are currently in custody in that country. Two other suspects are on the run.
A team from the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) of the UK is in the country to assist the security agencies to investigate the matter.
The five were on Wednesday remanded in custody by an Accra Circuit Court on what the prosecution described as “temporary charges” of conspiracy to commit offence relating to narcotic drugs, exportation of narcotic drugs, and abetment of exportation of cocaine.
Kevin Sarpong-Boateng, Eric Owusu Manu, Daniel Clottey, Frank Bruno Kpakpo and Daniel Gyabaah, alias JB, will re-appear on August 17, 2011.
They were arraigned together with Stephen Awua, Nana Yaw, alias Barfuor Gyau, Emmanuel Owusu and Kofi Bamfo, who are in custody in the UK in connection with the same offence. Others being tried are Hubert Laryea and Hohamoud Mufuti, who are at large.
The controversy surrounding the trial spilled over to the Cocoa Affairs Court on Wednesday as some followers of the accused persons attacked journalists for following the matter and engaged in a scuffle with a TV3 camera man, who was rescued by the police.
The attackers hurled insults at the reporters and threatened to teach them a lesson and dared the media men to come out of the court premises.
Similarly, in the courtroom, defence lawyers and the state prosecutor engaged in heated argument over the custody of the accused persons and while the defence lawyers wanted their clients to be remanded in either police custody or the Nsawam Prisons so they could have access to them, the prosecutor insisted on the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) custody.
The court ordered that the suspects be remanded in lawful custody without a specific reference to any place. The defence lawyers, therefore, told the court their intention to instruct their clients not to give any statement to the BNI if they were kept in BNI custody where they found it difficult to have access to the suspects.
Mr K. Asiamah-Sampong, Principal State Attorney, told the court presided over by Mrs Ivy Heward-Mills that all the accused persons were Ghanaians and members of an illicit drug syndicate which operated as narcotic drug exporters and pushers from Accra to the UK.
Sarpong-Boateng, he said, claimed to be a tour operator while Owusu was a manager of British Airways at the Kotoka International Airport, Accra; Clottey is an aircraft technician, Kpakpo was a profiler at KIA and Gyabaah was a businessman and car dealer.
He said that Awua, Bamfo and Nana Yaw had been arrested at Heathrow Airport in London in connection with the case and were now in prison custody pending the extradition of the five to UK.
He said between November, 2010 and June, this year, the suspects operated jointly to send eight kilogrammes of cocaine and, one kilogramme of cocaine and six parcels of Cannabis Sativa to the UK through British Airways using a shared responsibility method known as “pushing”.
Each one of them played a specified role in the transaction from KIA and on the plane to Heathrow Airport in UK.
The prosecutor said initial investigations revealed that in October, 2010, Sarpong-Boateng recruited the rest after he was contracted by Mufuti to export eight kilogrammes of cocaine from Ghana to the UK. In March, this year, he said Manu and Gyabaah travelled to London and met with Nana Yaw.
Their activities were monitored by both the Ghanaian security agencies and the SOCA of UK and through that effort Awua, Bamfo and Nan Yaw were arrested in the UK before the rest of the suspects were also arrested.
Mr Owusu Fordjour and Ben Sackey, counsel for the defence, opposed the prosecution’s prayer to the court to remand the suspects, since the constitution of Ghana and other subsidiary legislation did not know the temporary charges preferred against the suspects.
According to the counsel, the court could use its discretion to grant bail in the matter considering its route to the instant court and the fact that some of the suspects were granted bail earlier by another court.
Source: Daily Graphic