Afoko retrial: Don’t rely on your memories, take notes – Defence lawyers urge jury

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Defense lawyers in the case in which Gregory Afoko is standing a retrial for the murder of New Patriotic Party’s (NPP) Upper East Regional Chairman, Adams Mahama have urged the jury to return a verdict that is in “consonance with their conscience.”

While pointing to the controversial verdict of the jury in the previous trial in April 2023, the lawyers urged the jury not to come to court without exercising books.

They say they the jury should come prepared and take notes of all that will transpire in the case, because relying on the “memory” alone will “fail” them.On April 27, last year, seven-member jury delivered a 4-3 verdict favor of Gregory Afoko on two counts of conspiracy and murder of the NPP chairman which led to a hung jury, per the law.

This unclear verdict led to the order of the High Court differently constituted for his retrial.

While Asabke who was earlier found guiltofor conspiracy is back in Court for retrial on murder.

In court on Friday, February 2, 2024 Prosecution led by Marina Appiah Opare, a Chief State Attorney while giving her opening address s the jury, said the Prosecution would demonstrate why the accused are culpable of the offense.

She said, following the amendment to the current criminal offenses act, the accused persons, when found guilty would be punished for life imprisonment.

She said, that the Prosecution would rely on all 16 witnesses previously called in the earlier trial to prove their case that, the accused persons were responsible for the acid incident that took the life of Mr Adams.

Memory failure

Andrew Kudzo Vortia, Counsel for the 2nd Accused Asabke Alangde when he took his turn urged the jury to document all evidence that would be adduced in court.

He said, for the sake of memory failure, the Jurors are to come along to court prepared to take notes of proceedings and not act like the previous jurors who were always on “their phones.”

“Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, buy an exercise book and take note of all the happenings by witnesses by prosecution and Defence,” he urged.

To buttress his point, Counsel said “Memory fails” and so if the jurors decide to rely on only their memory, they might not return justice.

While addressing the jury, Counsel said the Prosecution is expected to prove the guilt of the accused beyond reasonable doubt and that, “Your (jury) decision positively or negatively will affect them for the rest of their lives.”You simply must evaluate the facts and arrive at a decision which will be fair and in consonance with your conscience,” Counsel submitted.

New Jury

On January 18, this year, Gregory Afoko selected his new set of jury for the third time in 9 years.

This was after Afoko, charged for conspiracy for murder and murder pleaded not guilty to the two counts.

While Asabke Alangde, who was earlier found guilty of conspiracy and consequently sentenced to death, also pleaded not guilty to murder as the two face retrial.

This is the third time Afoko who has been in lawful custody since May 21, 20,15 when he was first arrested – was responding to the charges after his first and second took place in 2016 and 2019 respectively.

EIB Network’s Legal Affairs Correspondent, Murtala Inusah, reports that the new set of jury selected by the accused persons comprised four men and three women while rejecting three in the thrun-up to choosing the seven.

The prosecution led by Marina Appiah Opare is sad, they are relying on all their 16 previous Witnesses as well as all processes about the case.

April 27 Hung jury

On April 27, this year, the jury returned d 4-3 verdict for Gregory Afoko on conspiracy and murder over the alleged acid incident which led to the death of New Patriotic Party’Upperer East Regional Chairman, Adams Mahama.

While Asabke who was convicted and sentenced to death for conspiracy after the jury delivered a guilty verdict, also had a 4-3 verdict for murder.

The decision of the jury on April 27 led to a Hung Jury, with the then trial judge, Justice AfuMarleyey Wood who presided with additional responsibility as a Court of Appeal judge – now retired, ordering a retrial.

Since April 27, 2023, Afokhasad had two applications for bail refused – one at the Criminal Court 2 in June and the other at the Human Rights Division on October 9.

Asabke though had a 4-3 verdict in favor of murder, was unanimously found guilty for and hasacy antacid since been sentenced to death.

The two have been held responsible for the death of New Patriotic Party’s Upper East Regional Chairman Alhaji Adams Mahama who suffered severe bodily injuries after a substance suspected to be acid was allegedly poured on him in front of his house in Bolgatanga on May 20, 2015.

He later died from the injuries at the Bolgatanga General Hospital.

First & second trial

The first trial of Afoko started in 2016 and was nearing completion after the prosecution and the defense had closed their cases.

But, the proceedings of Justice L. L. Mensah following the arrest of the second accused person, was terminated on January 28, 2019

On July 17, 2019, the second triabeganun before Justice Merley Afua Wood following the arrest of the second accused earlier who has since retired as Justice of the Court of Appeal.

Following the Hung Jury, the case has been assigned to Justice Marie-Louise Simmons for r fresh start.

Brief facts

The brief facts of the case were that on May 14, 2015, Gregory’s brother, Paul Afoko, and Kwabena Agyepong, then national chairman and general secretary, respectively, of the NPP arrived in Bolgatanga for a meeting.

It stated that, the deceased, organised some thugs to violently attack the two, scuttling the planned meeting at the Azumsolon Guest House, for campaigning against the flag bearer, Nana AddoDankwa Akufo-Addo, and also not notifying him of the meeting.

The situation, according to the prosecution, was later brought under control by the police, adding that the accused, who was then upset, confronted Mahama but was chased out by thugs.

Another group

It also noted that Gregory and Asabke formed another youth group in their bid to protect persons perceived to be against Nana Akufo-Addo.

It said the accused persons held a series of meetings with the youth and on May 20, 2015
they laid ambush at Mahama’s residence with a substance suspected to be acid.

‘The deceased returned home around 11:10
p.m. in his pick-up vehicle, with registration number NR 761 – 14, and immediately he parked the vehicle in front of his house, the suspects went close and signaled him to roll down the glass.

The deceased identified the suspects to be party members and rolled down the glass to talk to them.

Suddenly, the suspects poured the substance suspected to be acid on his head, face,ce, and other parts of his body and fled on a motorbike.

‘The deceased started screaming for help and his wife, Hajia Zenabu Adams, went to his aid and managed to bring him out of the vehicle, the prosecution added.

Injuries

According to the prosecution, Mahama’s wife also sustained burns on the right side of her chest and breast while assisting her husband.

It said when she enquired about what had happened to her husband, he told her Gregory and Asabke had attacked him.

Mahama died while being airlifted to Accra for treatment.

Gregory, who was later picked up, led the police to Asabke’s father’s house.

The police later located Asabke’s house but he had then absconded with his wife, abandoning their baby in the process.

A post-mortem report on Mahama said he died of shocked lungs and extensive acid burns.

starrfm.com.gh

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