Mobilla Killer Jailed 30yrs
An Accra High Court trying Corporal Yaw Appiah, a soldier, in connection with the death in 2004 of Alhaji Issa Mobilla, former Northern Regional Chairman of the Convention People’s Party (CPP), has sentenced him to 10 years’ imprisonment.
The court further sentenced in absentia Private Seth Goka, another soldier, on the same offence, to 20 years’ imprisonment. The sentences are to take effect from yesterday.
Corporal Yaw Appiah was convicted for manslaughter, after the seven-member jury returned a guilty verdict on the soldier and his accomplice, Cpl Seth Goka, who is now on the run.
The jury that handed the suspects the verdict had to deliberate on Corporal Appiah’s fate for almost an hour, after which the presiding judge, Justice Mustapha Habib Logoh, accepted the verdict.
Cpl Goka, Appiah’s accomplice, went into hiding when an arrest warrant was issued on him.
The court however acquitted and discharged Private Eric Modzaka, another soldier, after its ruling on a submission of no case filed for him and Corporal Appiah.
The three soldiers were put before the court on the charges of conspiracy to commit murder and murder.
Alhaji Mobilla was the Northern Regional Chairman of the CPP before his death at the hands of soldiers at the Kamina Barracks in Tamale.
The deceased, until his death, owned buses and was the chairman of the Ghana Private Roads Transport Union and was allegedly supplying firearms to fuel the Dagbon conflict when the police arrested him on December 9, 2004.
When information got to some youth in the Tamale metropolis that he had been arrested, the youth organized themselves and stormed the police station to free him; but the police took him to the Military Barracks at Kamina where he was beaten and died later.
The trial judge said he had taken into account the number of years Appiah had spent in custody, and the general atmosphere in the country at that time among others.
Cpl Appiah had already spent almost eight years in remand before the latest judgment.
The accused person was extremely tense when the jury found him guilty.
Earlier, Thadeus Sory, counsel for Cpl Appiah, prayed the judge to consider the circumstances at that time because he argued that the accused persons acted on the orders of a superior officer.
In summing up the case for the jury, Justice Logoh said it was the duty of the prosecution in any trial to prove the guilt of the accused person beyond any reasonable doubt and noted that the prosecution should not leave any reasonable doubt about the guilt of the person.
The judge also said the 1992 Constitution permitted trials to take place in absentia where a suspect was unavailable for trial.
Justice Logoh said there was no doubt that the accused person was dead and he died through wounds and multiple abrasions received from the gruesome torture as stated by the pathologist who conducted the autopsy.
He said from the evidence of the witnesses and the accused person, the deceased was healthy and walked by himself to Kamina Barracks where he was later beaten by the accused person, Goka and three others with neem tree branches.
In addition, he stated that harm was unlawful which was unjustifiably caused, and that under the laws of Ghana, whoever engaged in an unlawful activity would be held responsible for the act, whether or not the person was acting on the orders of a superior.
Justice Logoh noted that Cpl Appiah had admitted in his evidence that he was instructed to take part in beating the deceased by his superiors, but said he did not know that the deceased would die.
During the trial, the Chief State Attorney in the matter, Penelope Ann Mamattah, after the defence had closed its case, addressed the jury, saying that all the nine witnesses she called had proven all the ingredients of murder against the soldier.
According to her, when the deceased was sent to the Kamina Barracks, he was healthy and strong-looking, as the prosecution witnesses and a friend of Mobilla testified.
She told the court that the police officers who took the former chairman of the CPP to Kamina said he walked all by himself into the police vehicle and had a hearty chat with them on the way.
Furthermore, she noted that on December 9, 2004, the deceased, who was taken into military custody, died after collapsing on the floor. She said the excuse by Appiah that he did not intend to kill the accused person was not tenable and could not absolve him of the offence.
The state attorney observed that when the soldier was ordered by his superiors to beat the deceased, he should have refused because that act was contrary to the Armed Forces Regulation.
However, Mr. Sory argued that the prosecution had not been able to prove that the accused person was guilty of the offence for which he was arraigned, adding that Appiah was only acting on instructions of his superiors.
He said the accused person was part of those who were instructed to beat the deceased and noted that it was unfortunate that he died and said if the armed forces thought his client had acted wrongly, he would have been court-martialed.
He prayed the jury not to make a scapegoat of the accused but give a ‘no guilty’ verdict.
The accused person, who testified last week, told the court that when the deceased was brought, he and his colleagues were ordered by their superiors to beat him till he told the truth.
By Fidelia Achama