An Accra Fast Track High Court presided over by Justice Charles Quist on Thursday, March 3, slapped a fifteen year jail sentence on CEO of EXOPA Modeling Agency, Ibrahim Sima, for drug trafficking. He was convicted on two counts of attempting to export narcotic drugs and unlawful possession of narcotic drugs, and incarcerated at the Nsawam Prisons.
The ruling is said to have sent shock waves throughout the entertainment industry, with some models hardest hit.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with peacefmonline.com moments after the judgement was read, James Agalga, who was beside himself with disbelief, expressed unhappiness at the ruling since according to him the court had asked him to file a written address and he, in addition, had also wanted to some make some input, albeit orally. Counsel for Sima said he will consult with the convict to determine whether they should appeal the court’s decision.
“…right after the judgement the warder of the Nsawam prison took my client and I had the opportunity to talk to him and pick some certain instructions as to how to proceed with the case. For now, I will apply for a copy of the judgement, analyze it and see where the judgement had flaws and if I identify the flaws and my client so instructs that we launch an appeal; I won’t hesitate to launch an appeal… I was not particularly happy today about the fact that at the last hearing, the court adjourned the matter to today for us to make some oral submission in addition to the written submissions that we had wanted to file. When we went to court today, I thought I was going to be given the opportunity to address the court on certain salient issues but I am shocked that the judge proceeded straight away and said that the judgement was ready;… I think that that was a bit unusual and I was taken by surprise,” he admitted.
Expatiating further on what he will do in the event that his client asks him to file an appeal, the Accra-based legal practitioner said as a defence attorney the ruling is flawed in that most of the confessions made were done in the absence of independent witnesses.
“…We sought to advance our argument on those lines that the confessions were made even in the absence of independent witnesses so I don’t agree with the judge on those legal points. As I said it is not for me but if I am instructed to file an appeal, I will certainly be looking at things like that. Some of the confessions they instructed from the witnesses were actually done in the absence of independent witnesses and it is a fundamental legal point. You cannot have a confession statement in the absence of an independent witness…He is entitled to his views but one thing about our judicial system is that when they are aggrieved by the judgement of a court, you can seek redress in the higher court… the court of appeal,”
When asked if per the ruling one can safely assume that his client’s assets will be sequestered by the state, Lawyer James Agalga said that issue “has not arisen yet”. He, however, quickly added that should the state decide to seize Sima’s assets, it will have to “prove that those assets belong to my client and he acquired them through some illegal enterprise.”
“The issue of the state confiscating his assets has not arisen yet but when they arrested him sometime in 2009, they confiscated his vehicle and some of the items like computers and so on and these things have remained in the state custody. I do not know what the state intends to do and I don’t want to preempt some of these things but if the state move to have his assets confiscated, it is up to the state to prove that those assets belongs to my client and (that) he acquired them through some illegal enterprise…that is through proceeds from narcotic business,” he said.
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