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Saturday, February 13, 2010

Rokko ‘Killers’ Freed

FREEDOM! After a harrowing period for the accused and their families

The five soldiers arrested by the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) last November in connection with the murder of Rokko Frimpong, former Deputy Managing Director of Ghana Commercial Bank (GCB), have finally been let off the hook.

The Attorney General decided to enter a nolle prosequi yesterday, indicating that she was no longer interested in prosecuting the accused persons, Sgts Michael Arthur, Richard Somuah and Lamptey Hazel and Cpls Charles Ankumah and Emmanuel Antwi who were put before an Osu Magistrate Court.

The soldiers were accused of killing Mr Frimpong on the instruction of unknown political authority, an allegation described by their lawyers as a pack of concocted lies.

As it turned out, the Attorney General has gotten her fingers burnt again as the case has become a hoax.

A press release issued by the Attorney-General, Betty Mould-Iddrisu, noted that even though she was not obliged to disclose reasons for her decision, she “has taken into consideration public interest and has come to the conclusion that it is more justifiable to prosecute the suspects initially arrested” in the case.

The release stated there are still questions concerning the involvement of the soldiers in the redenomination exercise and advised the BNI to sustain their investigations, with particular reference to the officers’ involvement in the redenomination exercise which took place in 2007.

The prosecuting team, after their arrests, has not been able to marshal witnesses in the case for hearing to begin; and the judge, Emmanuel Plange Brew, told them on the last hearing date that he had given the prosecution team the last chance as far as adjournments were concerned.

Counsel for the accused persons, Joe Aboagye Debrah of First Law Chambers, confirmed the withdrawal of the case by the Attorney General but said they were seeking to abridge time on the matter so that the case could be called on Monday because the case was adjourned to Friday on the last hearing date.

He said, “I am very happy for my clients who are very hardworking soldiers and I believe with this, they can go back to serve the nation.

“This is an option available to the A-G and I’m happy they have taken such a step and that’s all I can say for now.”

ASP Patrick Morkeh, the prosecutor, on the last hearing date revealed that some bullets had been found which were sent for forensic examination, asking for the continued detention of the suspects.

Even though he did not reveal where the bullets suspected to have been used for the operation were found, he told the court that the prosecution would need more time to conclude investigations, which Mr. Debrah did not take kindly to.

The prosecution had alleged that the suspects were hired by a superior authority to eliminate the former GCB boss over the redenomination of the cedi.

According to him, the soldiers were in a legal limbo and there was the need for the prosecuting team to expedite action so as to ensure a speedy trial and noted that it was possible for them to come with one excuse which could delay the trial.

Mr. Debrah noted that he was aware that there is a docket at the Attorney-General’s Department with the names of persons suspected to have committed the same offence, wondering why any group could be charged for the same offence.

He said a time limit should be placed on the prosecution as they did not even have a bill of indictment and summary judgment.

The accused persons were arraigned after they were freed less than four days following their detention upon a habeas corpus application filed by the soldiers.

An Accra Fast Track High Court had ordered the release of the five soldiers on the ground of gross human rights violations.

All of them had been charged with conspiracy and murder and their plea was not taken.

The prosecutor told the court that the accused persons were part of the 64 Infantry Battalion of the Ghana Armed Forces.

He said sometime in June 2007 during the time of the re-denomination of the Cedi, the then Deputy Director of GCB, Rokko Frimpong, discovered some rot with the denomination exercise allegedly committed by some government officials and wanted to uncover the rot.

He disclosed that some persons who masterminded a way of ensuring that the secret would not be unraveled, consequently engaged the soldiers to eliminate Mr. Frimpong for a fee of between GH¢5,000 to GH¢15,000 which the accused persons agreed and subsequently met and plotted with the said persons on how to embark on the deadly operation.

According to him, during their arrest, some of the accused persons admitted receiving some money while others denied receiving any.

Counsel for the soldiers, Joe Debrah, in his submission said the stories were concocted against his clients because whatever money any of the solders received was part of the ex-gratia awarded to the military by the former President John Agyekum Kufuor.

By Fidelia Achama

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