Wednesday 27th March, 2013Printable Version
Consequently, the court could not empanel the seven member jury needed to sit on the cases for the Assizes to commence on Wednesday as expected due to the absence of some members.
Immediately after the formal opening of the court, it had to adjourn to Thursday, April 25, when the first case was called.
The opening had been carried out in a glitz ceremony of a procession of judges and lawyers led by Mr Justice Kwasi Dapaah, amidst the blowing of trumpets by personnel from the Ghana Police Service who were dressed in smart ceremonial outfits and lined up at the forecourt of court complex for inspection.
The procession later converged at the Cape Coast Commercial Court, where Mr Justice Benuyena Benson, Central Regional Supervising High Court Judge, in a brief remark, expressed concern that the scarcity of jurors greatly contributed to delays in the administration of justice.
He explained that an Assizes is a court where indictable offences, including murder, manslaughter, robbery and other crimes that could attract the death penalty, life imprisonment and long sentences, are tried and, therefore, a speedy trial was needed to prevent unnecessary delays.
He was, however, disappointed that of the 50 requests the Judicial Service sent to heads of Ministries, Departments and Agencies and other organizations in the region to release potential juror members to the court, only nine people had so far expressed interest.
Justice Benson said a maximum of 30 jurors were needed to enable the court to empanel them into seven-member jurors for cases and reminded the public that the expeditious adjudication of cases would require the cooperation of all stakeholders.
He asked all the other stakeholders to play their parts judiciously and work in concert for justice to prevail at all times.
Justice Benson also advised relatives of accused persons to desist from treating them as outcasts, reminding them that an accused person was innocent until found guilty.
Mrs Hannah Taylor, Central Regional Principal State Attorney, said this year’s court had 32 cases made up of 20 murder, four attempted murder, six manslaughter and two rape cases for prosecution.
She re-echoed calls to departmental heads to avail jurors to help expand the jury base in the region to help lessen the burden on available jurors who may have to sit on many cases as a result of lack of jurors, indicating that it was the civic duty of all qualified Ghanaians.
It was her prayer that all stakeholders would cooperate to facilitate an effective criminal justice system that would be satisfactory to all parties.GNA