Tension Mounts At Chinto: Court ‘Frees’ Murder Suspects

Palpable fear has gripped indigenes of Chinto near Nsawam in the Eastern Region, following the tension that heralded recent release on bail of some members of the community alleged to have taken active part in the gruesome murder of their chief at Adoagyiri on the night of Saturday, March 26, 2015. The suspects were released is in spite of protests from leaders of the community and family members of the slain chief that the suspects should not be granted bail because it will constitute a big threat to members of the community who volunteered implicating information that led to their arrest. Family members of the chief have expressed reservations about the decision of a circuit court in Accra to grant bail to the accused person, Charles Donkor, alias Killer. They have argued that the court, presided over by Justice Francis Obiri, breached the law when it granted bail to an accused person in a murder case. The family members insist that the crime was a non-bailable offence per the country’s Criminal Procedure Code. Section 96(7) of the country’s Criminal Code states that, a court shall refuse to grant bail, (a) in a case of treason, subversion, murder, robbery, hijacking, piracy, rape and defilement or escape from lawful custody and, (b) where a person is being held for extradition to a foreign country. The suspect, is alleged to be the hired gun who was contracted to kill the chief to pave the way for the enstoolment of a new chief. Nana Okotoako Kofi Mankata II, 54, and his driver, Nana Kwame, 38, were gunned down at the entrance of his residence at Adoagyiri near Nsawam. Chinto a one-time peaceful community is stuck in a cycle of chieftaincy disputes and landguard violence. Meanwhile, notable indigenes of the town have fled to neighbouring towns and beyond for fear of been persecuted by the released suspects who are said to have been jubilating and boasting openly that the case has ended. Residents confirmed that the suspects who were released on bail are threatening to eliminate some elders of the community who are pushing for their prosecution and possible incarceration, if they are found guilty. There is no record of a single successful prosecution related to crimes committed by landguards who are gradually taking over the community. This impunity for acts of violence helps explains why the cycle of revenge and counter-revenge has continued. It also makes building bridges between the various factions more difficult. The trial judge in freeing the suspect said there was no evidence directly linking the suspect to the crime. He said the prosecuting team, led by DSP E. Acheampong, failed to prove that the suspect was in possession of the said gun as it was later admitted in court that the gun was found somewhere. The chief and his driver were returning home after attending a funeral when the said unknown assailants on an unregistered motorbike shot them. The prosecution had told the court the facts of the case that police had retrieved a pistol and 13 rounds of live ammunition after the arrest of the suspect.