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Sunday, May 22, 2022

Court Admits Kumasi ‘Kidnappers’ Confessions

An Accra High Court has admitted into evidence the confession statements of four persons standing trial for allegedly kidnapping two Canadian ladies in Kumasi in 2019.

Sampson Aghalor, Elvis Ojiyorwe, Jeff Omarsa, and Yussif Yakubu are facing three counts of conspiracy, kidnapping and unlawful imprisonment.

The accused persons had confessed to the crime in their respective investigative caution statements when they were interrogated by the police upon their arrest.

The prosecution through the case investigator had wanted to tender the confession statements as evidence but the move was opposed by the defence lawyers who argued that the confessions were not made voluntarily and that his clients spoke under duress.

The accused persons turned around to claim they did not make the statements and even if they did it was because they were subjected to ‘beatings’ and ‘torture’.

The prosecution on the other hand maintained that the confessions were made voluntarily by the accused persons in the presence of independent witnesses.

Mini Trial

The court presided over by Justice Lydia Osei Marfo, therefore, held a mini trial to determine the admissibility of the confession statements.

The prosecution called three witnesses – the investigator and two independent witnesses who all told the court that the accused persons gave their statements voluntarily.

The independent witnesses also told the court that the accused persons gave their statements voluntarily in a friendly environment without any torture.

The accused persons also opened their defence in the mini trial and maintained that they were tortured to confession and they did so without the presence of any independent witnesses.

Court Ruling

Justice Marfo in her ruling stated that she was convinced that the accused persons gave their statements to the police voluntarily without any intimidation or torture.

She said she found the accused persons’ accusations to be a ‘well-rehearsed’ plan to the extent that in their evidence-in-chief they said no statements were taken by the police but under cross-examination they all said they gave some form of statements to the police.

Justice Marfo after finding that the statements were given voluntarily without any intimidation overruled the objections and admitted the confession statements in evidence.

Main Trial

Sampson Aghalor, 28, computer engineer; Elvis Ojiyorwe, 28, businessman, and  Jeff Omarsa, 29, tiller – all Nigerians and their Ghanaian counterpart Yussif Yakubu, 29, are facing three counts of conspiracy, kidnapping and unlawful imprisonment.

An all-Ghanaian security operation led by the National Security on June 12, 2019, rescued the two Canadian ladies who were abducted from the gates of their hostel in a Kumasi suburb the previous month.

The suspects allegedly kidnapped their victims and kept them in an uncompleted building on the outskirts of town and demanded a ransom of $800,000.

They were said to have also touched the ladies inappropriately and threatened to have sex with them.

According to court documents, the accused persons in a bid to get the victims’ parents to pay the ransom, smeared the victims with the blood of a fowl, took pictures of them and forwarded them to their parents.

BY Gibril Abdul Razak

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