Lawyers condemn ruling in Mahama assassination plot as despicable

A Circuit judge, Justice Francis Obiri has come under severe criticism for sentencing Charles Antwi to 10 years imprisonment after the suspect confessed to intending to assassinate the president.

Justifying his maximum sentence, Justice Obiri Yeboah said the attempt was pre-meditated after the man confessed to visiting Ringway branch of the Assemblies of God church in Accra where the first family worships. The 36-year old man was in church for three Sunday services and carried a locally made firearm.

The first family was not in church last Sunday when Charles Antwi was arrested after National Security operatives found his movements suspicious.

According to Charles Antwi, Ghana is suffering from economic hardship under Mahama hence his plot. He told the court he has been dreaming of becoming President since the tenure of the late President Mills.

The mother of Charles Antwi says that her son is mentally unstable. Even before the mother made these statements, the had questioned the sanity of the convict but nonetheless proceeded to sentence him.

Charles Antwi at the Accra Circuit court
Within an hour of the Tuesday morning trial, the man’s fate was decided. But the ruling has triggered criticism from lawyers who have been lining up to provide versions of their condemnation.

Constitutional expert, Professor Stephen Kwaku Asare has described the ruling as “despicable” and “unheard of.”

Without a lawyer, the trial lasted for an hour Tuesday morning although the Prosecution had come to court seeking for more time to complete its investigations.

He compared the speed of the trial to Jamaican 100-meter record holder, Usain Bolt.

Professor Kwaku Asare says Article 19 of the Constitution requires that both sides be given adequate time to prepare.

Although Charles Antwi confessed to an attempt to assassinate the President, Professor Asare says his confession is “completely irrelevant” to the official charge of unlawful possession of firearms.

A legal practitioner, Mathias Yakah has also questioned the ruling.

“It is totally wrong in law to sentence someone who has pleaded not guilty…he must be made to go through full trial…,” he said on Adom FM hours after the ruling.

Another lawyer Yaw Oppong has also described the ruling as severe because with a charge of illegal possession of a firearm, the Arms and Ammunitions Act 1972 (NRCD 9) does not prescribe a 10-year sentence.

Quoting the law, Yaw Oppong said “any person who has in his possession without lawful authority [a firearm]….shall be guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding c5 million or to imprisonment not exceeding five years or to both”

He described the ruling as a “travesty of justice”.

Story by Ghana|Myjoyonline|Edwin Appiah|[email protected]

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