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Friday, November 13, 2009

Arrest BNI Boss - Asabee's Counsel

Nene Amegatcher, Counsel for Mr Stephen Asamoah Boateng, former Minister of Information and National Orientation, on Thursday urged the Human Rights High Court to order the IGP to arrest the Director of Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) and two others for failing to appear before the Court to answer charges of contempt levelled against them by the former minister.

This followed an earlier order by the same court for the Director of the BNI and the two others to appear before it to answer contempt charges.

The court, accordingly, declined to grant a request by the Attorney-General's (A-G's) Department which prayed that the matter be held in camera in order to protect the identity of the respondents.

Mr Justice U. P. Dery, the presiding judge, however disagreed with the A-G Department's suggestion that it would be inimical for the identities of the respondents to be blown, stating that the BNI and the police enjoyed the same rights and protection.

Mr Asamoah-Boateng, his wife, Zuleika, Jennifer Lorwiah, Nana Yaw Asamoah-Boateng and Andrew Asamoah-Boateng instituted the contempt action against the three respondents, Yaw Donkor, Josephine Gandawiri, Stephen Abrokwa, and the A-G for preventing them from travelling outside the country on two occasions without recourse to a court order.

Nene Amegatcher said per the 1992 constitution no one was above the law and as such the respondents should have appeared in person to answer the contempt case instituted against them.

He said the Attorney General's (AG) Department had also not explained to the court why the respondents were not in court.

However Ms Helen Kwawukume, chief State Attorney in her argument, said the respondents had filed an appeal against the contempt charges at the Appeal Court and urged the High Court to stay proceedings on the matter.

She said because the mater would be pending at the Appeal Court it would be proper the case was adjourned sine dine till the determination of the case at the Appeal Court.

Nene Amegatcher, in his submissions said the mere fact that the respondents had filed an application at the Appeal Court did not mean that the High Court's jurisdiction had been taken away.

He said if such an argument was accepted it would have great consequences on the administration of justice in the country.

The contempt action was instituted when the four applicants were prevented from travelling outside the country on June 14, 2009 without any court order or warrant, following which they filed an application seeking an injunction to restrain the BNI from further preventing them from travelling without a court order.

While the application was pending, they claimed the BNI again disregarded the action and prevented them from travelling again at a later date.

The matter had been embroiled in some confusion when, on August 18, 2009, there was controversy over direct proof of service of the contempt summons on the Director of the BNI and the two other officials of the bureau.

While the records of the court and applicants' lawyer indicated that the three respondents had been served with the contempt summons, the A-G's Department said otherwise.

Similarly, the records of proof of service of the court and that of applicants' lawyer did not tally, as the two records indicated names of different bailiffs, with different dates of serving the contemnors. The case has been adjourned to December 22, 2009.

Source: GNA

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