The hopes of Gregory Afoko, the prime suspect in the murder of the late Upper East Regional Chairman of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Adams Mahama, to secure bail pending his retrial was dimed by an Accra High Court which denied his request.
His counsel had filed an application for bail before the court indicating that the accused had been in custody of the police, National Intelligence Bureau (NIB) and now the Nsawam Prison for the past eight years since arrest in 2015.
They had pleaded with the court to grant him bail pending the retrial, occasioned by a 4:3 hung jury which found him not guilty of two charges of conspiracy to commit murder and murder.
A seven-member jury by a 4:3 decision found Gregory Afoko not guilty of conspiring to murder the late Upper East Regional Chairman of the NPP, Adams Mahama, but unanimously found his co-accused, Asabke Alangdi guilty of the same offence.
The jury however, by 4:3 majority found the two accused persons not guilty of the substantive charge of murder, thereby resulting in a hung jury and a retrial by a different jury.
While Afoko is to be retried as a result of a hung jury, Asabke Alangdi was sentenced to death by hanging after he was convicted by the court based on the jury’s guilty verdict on the charge of conspiracy to commit murder.
The court ordered a retrial for Afoko by a new jury and the case is yet to be assigned to a new judge, hence his counsel filed an application for bail pending the retrial.
Moving the motion, Stephen Sowah Charway said the basis of the application was that Afoko was arrested on May 21, 2018, to date he has had two full trials – the first lasting for about three years and the second lasting for a little over three years.
He said before the conclusion of the second trial they made an application for bail which was granted, “but for some mysterious reasons even though all the bail conditions were executed the applicant was not released.”
“Then there was a decision later where the bail was rescinded. The applicant has been on remand for eight years with two full trials spanning a period of about six years,” Mr. Charway averred.
“It is our respectful submission that the continuous detention of the applicant is unfair, is without any justification and is unconscionable. It is the trite principle of law that an accused person is innocent until proven guilty. Just as is his constitutional right to fair trial, constitutional right to be tried within a reasonable trial, there is also a constitutional right to bail of an accused person clearly stated in Article 14(4) of the 1992 Constitution,” he added.
The application was opposed by Dorm Esi Fiadzo, a State Attorney who argued that Afoko was indeed handed bail in 2019 but is still in lawful custody because he was unable to meet the bail conditions.
She said although the constitution guarantees personal liberty, the same constitution has spelt out situations where that liberty can be curtailed and one of them is detention pending trial.
Ms. Fiadzo argued that Afoko will not show up for the trial if granted bail due to the severity of the punishment he would face if found guilty.
“They can bring all the sureties in the world and give us all the justification but if the applicant absconds what will the state and the family of the deceased derive from the properties used for the justification. This is why we are ready to go the extra mile to ensure that justice is served,” she added.
The court presided over by Justice Marie Louise Simmons, in her ruling, said it is true Afoko had been in custody for either years but both the prosecution and defence agree that there had been two separate trials and this does not result in unreasonable delay.
She said a month delay after verdict which is a result of the case not been reassigned to a different court could not constitute unreasonable delay either.
She, therefore, denied Afoko bail and dismissed the application filed by his counsels, adding that he could repeat that application in another court.
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