Gifty Amofa, GNA
Accra, Nov. 8, GNA - Mrs Eleanor Kakra Barnes-Botchway on Friday ruled that the District Court has jurisdiction to hear the case involving the Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Benjamin Agordzor for allegedly abetting Dr Mac-Palm and nine others to destabilise the country.
She said the court is exclusively vested with the power to conduct the committal proceedings before a case could be sent to the High Court for trial and therefore the application to decline jurisdiction has no merit.
He has been charged with abetment to commit crime to wit treason.
The Court therefore remanded the ACP into police custody pending further investigations and to reappear on November 20, 2019.
In an eleven-paged ruling, the Court ruled that ACP Agordzor is a suspect and not yet an accused person because he had not been served with the bill of indictment, which should be served together with the charge sheet as done in all first degree offences, which treason is.
It said due to the fact that anyone arrested or detained had to be arraigned within 48 hours, the bill of indictment could not have been ready as at the time when investigations were ongoing and the Attorney General had not advised on the docket.
Mrs Barnes-Botchway advised the team of lawyers made up of Mr Issah Adam, the lead counsel, Mr Martin Kpebu, Miss Esthel Akrofi Amanor, Miss Hamdiya Mohammed and Mr Albert Quarshiga all for the suspect, that they were free to go to the Apex court to seek interpretation over whether the Court had jurisdiction or not.
The Court ruled and explained to defence counsel the rules relating to indictable offences did not state a specific court but said a court.
The court said It did not specify that district courts do not have jurisdiction and that district courts are the first in line where committal process begins, saying that application of bail would only be reasonable when the case was delayed of which the court had not compromised in that regard.
The court then ordered the charges to be read and directed the Prosecution to send the docket to AG for advice.
The court had considered an earlier application made by ACP Agordzor’s counsel as well as the counter submission by the prosecution.
Counsel told the court that since it did not have jurisdiction, it cannot grant bail nor remand him, adding that the client was still a suspect because he had not been charged before the court, and has not served with a bill of indictment.
However the Prosecution led by Assistant Superintendent of Police (ASP) Sylvester Asare said the Court had jurisdiction, the suspect was charged and the case duly registered at the Court, stating that it was premature to ask for bail.
ASP Asare gave the facts that the suspect is stationed at the Police Headquarters in Accra and was on a Peace Keeping Mission when Dr Frederick Mac-Palm invited him in 2018 to join his group after explaining its objectives to him and which he obliged.
He said though at mission outside, Dr Agordzor joined the group’s discussions and attended their meetings whilst on vacation and incited them to demonstrate as it was their right.
ASP Asare said the suspect also gave money to the group facilitate their activities and thus, on November 4, this year, he was arrested to assist in investigations.
One of the defence counsel, Mr Kpebu prayed the Court to remand his client into police custody to avoid certain impediments and specifically stated the Cantonments and Nima Police Stations so that he would be given proper care because of his health.
The Prosecution opposed this with the reasons that his right, liberty and security were subject to that of any member of the public.
The court remanded him into the Ministries Police to enable him have access to both the Police and Korle-Bu hospitals in case of any eventuality and ordered that the counsel and family should have access to him between 0900 and 1600 hours.
Mrs Barnes-Botchway cautioned the suspect and family to restrain themselves and not take to the media to avoid unnecessary tension since in the end, justice would prevail.
There was heavy security presence including top police officers and family and friends of the suspect.