THE FORMER Member of Parliament (MP) for Nkoranza North, Eric Amoateng, who was arrested by security officials on Thursday afternoon on arrival from the United States on board Delta Airlines, was yesterday put before an Accra Circuit Court for fraud.
Amoateng, a teacher and farmer, had spent over seven years in a United States of America (USA) prison where he was jailed in connection with heroin-related offences.
He was yesterday charged with possessing a forged passport which had the number of a passport issued to a lady called Barbara and he denied any wrongdoing in a court presided over by Ellen Vivian Amoah.
The passport No H2347080, which Amoateng used in flying back to Ghana, was originally issued to a lady called Barbara Inkoom. According to sources, the passport was issued in Accra on February 23, 2009—at a time the former MP was still in jail.
The suspect was granted bail in the sum of GH¢200,000 with three sureties, one to be justified, after Charles Puozuing, counsel for Amoateng, prayed for bail for him.
In granting bail to the suspect, the trial judge stated that the prosecution team, led by DSP Aidan Dery, had not done enough to convince her that they genuinely needed to keep the suspect on remand and said she found their excuses that they were rushing him to court in accordance with the 48 hour law ‘rather flimsy’.
According to her, the prosecution’s facts had not even been authenticated by the investigator and that once the prosecution had had the plea of the suspect taken, she would not be able to help them by ordering the remand of Amoateng.
She noted that reasons by the prosecution, that they had not taken his statement to ascertain how he came by the said passport, were not tenable.
Judge Amoah noted that claims that the prosecution was not sure whether or not Amoateng had a fixed place of abode should not have arisen, especially if the prosecution had not been able to investigate that, adding she would uphold the submission by counsel for Amoateng that he had a fixed place of abode.
She consequently granted him bail.
Earlier, counsel for Amoateng said the suspect had persons who had good moral standing and were contractors who had put up establishments and were ready to stand surety for him.
He noted that the offence was a bailable one and not one of the precluded offences as far as bail was concerned and accordingly prayed the court for bail.
DSP Derry opposed the bail on grounds that they had not taken statements from the suspect to know how he came by the said passport and were rushing to bring him to court to avoid flouting the 48-hour law which requires that suspects be arraigned within 48 hours.
The prosecutor noted that they had not even been able to ascertain if he had a fixed place of abode and prayed the court to remand Amoateng to enable them appear properly before her.
The facts of the case as presented by DSP Dery were that the accused person is the former MP for Nkoranza North who on December 9, 2005 went to the United States of America.
He said on December 11, 2005 the accused person was arrested and tried in connection with some heroin business and sentenced to 10 years imprisonment.
According to him, on August 7, 2014 the suspect returned to Ghana on Delta Airlines using passport number H22347080.
The police officer said investigations revealed that the passport was issued to a certain lady called Barbara in 2009, at a time the convict was in prison and had its bio-data tampered with, adding that it was therefore a forged one.
He said investigations were ongoing.
Amoateng was arrested on arrival from the US on Thursday for debriefing and later kept at the Nima Police Station until yesterday when he was put before court for forgery.
BY Fidelia Achama
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