General News of Saturday, 2 February 2019
The Attorney-General and Minister of Justice Madam Gloria Akuffo has joined the list of beneficiaries of the Akufo-Addo government’s Free SHS policy as she received “education” from respected academic Prof Stephen Kwaku Asare, popularly known as Kwaku Azar on the filing of Nolle Prosequi in the murder trial of Gregory Afoko.
In a post sighted by MyNewsGh.com, Prof Azar said the AG abandoned the trial of the accused because they did a bad job in linking Mr Afoko to the murder of Adams Mahama.
“It is much more complicated than guilty or not guilty. There are procedural protections, one of which is that you cannot go forward with a trial and then abandon it when you think it is not going your way so you can later on go after the defendant.”
Responding to his loyal followers’ question as to whether Mr Afoko’s team can fight back, he said “They have to and no judge should allow such an abuse Possibly, and even worse. You remand a person, have him spend a fortune on litigation, pilot test your case, self incrimination, etc. This is madness.”
“You cannot remand a defendant for years while a trial is pending and then release him, on filing for nolle prosequi, only to indict him again for the same offense, etc.”
Prof Azar who has been one of the known critics of the manner in which the AG jas applied the nolle prosequi rule in the trial of the galamsey Queen, in the Kumasi Delta Force trial and now in the murder trial of Gregory Afoko said the AG is using the Nolle Prosequi rule as a tool for ‘malicious terrorism’ of accused standing trial.
Observing the four years wasted trial of Gregory Afoko, he Advised the lawyers of Gregory Afoko to fight it in court as it is “Either we are serious with liberty, justice and constitutionalism or we are not serious about them” he wrote.
While clarifying that he is not saying saying nolle prosequi should be scrapped, it should not be abused. He wrote:
“There is a whole body of law called criminal procedure that provides the dos and donts of prosecution. No, it (nolle prosequi) should not be scrapped. But it cannot be used to terrorize defendants.” He added.
“That is why a defendant is allowed to oppose the application once a jury is empaneled. Otherwise, the prosecutor can file a np on the morning of the judgment day.”
Nolle Prosequi “Free SHS”
Prof Kwaku Azar provided a bried Education on nolle prosequi:
“It is settled law that the the (sic) power of nolle prosequi belongs to the prosecutor and it may be exercised without the consent, and even against the protest, of the defendant at any time before a jury is impaneled for his trial, and also after verdict of guilty and before sentence.
It is equally settled that between the empaneling of the jury and the verdict the power cannot be exercised without the consent of the defendant.
Most common law courts accept Cooley’s treatise for the proposition that jeopardy attaches at the time the jury is “impaneled and sworn,” that the defendant at that time becames entitled to a verdict that would bar a new prosecution, and that the defendant could not be deprived of this bar by a nolle prosequi entered by the prosecuting officer against his will, or by a discharge of the jury and continuance of the cause.
Trials are serious events. They are not grounds for the prosecution to test its theories and hear the defense’s story so that the prosecution can willy nilly discontinue them and seek a new trial that leverages upon the prior knowledge acquired at the discontinued trials.
Nor should the criminal justice system be converted into a revolving door for remanding and putting a defendant on trial until a guilty verdict is procured. The Republic May have no limits to its budgets for such adventures but defendants do not!