Eric Amoateng: Court orders forensic report of signature in passport

Eric AmoatengThe Accra Circuit Court hearing the case of Eric Amoateng, former Member of Parliament for Nkoranza North, over a forged passport, on Thursday ordered for the forensic report of the signature of the passport.

The court presided over by Madam Ellen Amoah ordered that the verification of the signature should be done by a forensic signature analyst to verify the signature as indicated in the alleged forged passport.

She also indicated that a copy of the order should be served to the director of the CID Headquarters and the Inspector General of Police and a proof of service obtained for the court to know on which date the orders reached them.

The court made the order after the fifth prosecution witness, Mr Alexander Grant Ntrakwah Director of Passport gave his evidence and was cross examined by the defence counsel.

During his evidence, he said he did not know the accused person personally but was called to come and give evidence in the case.

He told the court that there are two ways of acquiring a passport, the first being the previous system that was not biometric, which ended in 2010, and the current one with the biometric system, which started in 2010.

When asked to explain how passport was acquired through both processes, he said with the old process one needed to buy a form from either the post office or the bank, fill it out and attach four passport size pictures and submit to the passport application centre for processing.

Mr Ntrakwah told the court that with the new system, one needed to buy a form from the bank, duly complete it and then proceed to any of the passport application centres, where applicants biometrics are taken, including pictures, figure prints and signature, which are biometrically transmitted into the system for processing.

When asked what type of passport was in contention, he said the passport and the documentation assisting it is the type that could be said to be the old type bearing the number H2347080.

He said the number on the form was H2347080 just as the passport but the form had a picture of a woman whiles the passport had a male’s picture.

Mr Ntrakwah, when asked whether there was a possibility that one passport number could be given to two persons,replied that. the passport numbers were already perforated in the booklet and that could never be the case.

He said he could not tell whether the bearer of the passport applied or not and that the only application they have on record is the application form and not the passport.

During cross examination by the Defence Counsel led by Mr Charles Pouzuing, the witness said under the old system it was required for one to present the application form in person.

He said he was not the one who issued the passport but the signature in it indicates that it could have been signed by one of his predecessors.

In response to the question as to whether any officer could have access to the blank passport other than him, he said it was not possible unless the person breaks into the store room, and noted that, passports are supposed to be issued by passport officers and no other persons

The defence counsel again asked whether the witness could know whether the number on the form was indeed the right number to be written and he answered in the affirmative saying it is the number assigned to the lady because that is what their records provide.

He said they have a log book aside the form and provided the entries were made correctly, they could retrieve the information from that source, adding that, every passport application has a single file independent of the log book.

Mr Ntrakwah told the court that the passport in the case is one that is owned by the republic of Ghana, adding that, he couldn’t confirm whether the said lady on the form (Barbra Inkoom )was issued the passport or not.

He said their record book acknowledges receipt of passport to applicants but not in all cases as officers could give passports to applicants.

He reiterated that it is not easy to identify whether a passport is forged or not.

Presiding judge asked whether there was any other way of acquiring a passport in Ghana aside the two he had mentioned and he replied “yes if it is acquired through fraudulent means”, adding that, the two methods in the embassy’s still exists.

He said he was aware of online registration which only applied to the old system and was available at the missions.

The case was later adjourned to May 26, for continuation.

At the last sitting the case was adjourned for the prosecution to present the next witness.

Mr Amoateng is alleged to have travelled to Ghana with a female Ghanaian Passport, after serving his conviction abroad. He has pleaded not guilty, and has been admitted to bail in the sum of GH¢ 200,000

The case for the state is that in December 2005, he went to the United States, and was arrested in the same month for possessing heroin, a narcotic drug.

He was jailed and after serving his sentence, Amoateng was released from prison on July 30, 2014.

On August 7, that same year, the accused person arrived at the Kotoka International Airport on board a Delta Airline flight at 1420 hours, and while going through arrival formalities, it was detected that he had in his possession a Ghanaian Passport which was allegedly forged, with the bio-data page substituted. GNA

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