Gregory Afoko is appealing against his continuous detention by the state for eight years. The appeal follows the granting and rescinding of bail by a Trail High Court after 4-3 jury verdict last month, April 27, 2023.
Counsel for Afoke, Stephen Sowah Charway, appealing against the rescinding of the bail application before another High Court, said the continuous detention of his client was not fair, given the fact that he had faced two trials.
He told the court, presided over by Justice Marie Louise Simmons, that the first trial lasted for about three years, and it was aborted just as the parties were to address the court before summary.
He added that the second trial also lasted a little over three years, from 2019 to 2023, and this second trial went the full length after the state produced 16 witnesses and the jury examined the evidence presented by the state.
Mr. Charway continued that the trial ended with four members of the jury making a determination that the applicant (Afoko) was not guilty, and three members thought otherwise, so a retrial had been ordered as the law states.
He continued that after the end of the second trial, the High Court granted the application for bail, but for some mysterious reasons, even though all the bail conditions were executed, the applicant was not released.
The counsel stated that the court later rescinded its decision on the application, saying, “The applicant has been on remand for eight years with two full trials spanning a period of about six years.”
This, the counsel told the appellant court: “It is our respectful submission that the continuous detention of the applicant is unfair; is without any justification, and is unconscionable.
“It is the trite principle of law that an accused person is innocent until proven guilty. Just as is his constitutional right to fair trial; constitutional right to be tried within a reasonable trial, there is also a constitutional right to bail of an accused person clearly stated in Article 14(4) of the 1992 Constitution.”
But in the case of his client before the court, the counsel could not fathom why the state would continue to detain Afoko, especially when he had not behaved in any rebellious way or whatsoever.
The counsel, therefore, argued that the applicant had no previous conviction before his arrest as his guilt had not been proven.
Mr. Charway added that just as Afoko was able to meet all the bail conditions in 2019, he was prepared to meet all the bail conditions this time round too.
Additionally, he was willing to avail himself as a citizen of the land for the retrial as ordered by the court, saying the applicant had furnished the court with two sureties who were full citizens of Ghana and were of sufficient means to execute the bail.
The State prosecutor, Esi Dorm Fiadzo, contended that though the applicant was granted sometime in 2019, as states by the counsel, the accused could not fulfil all the bail conditions, and that was why he is still in lawful custody.
According to her, “My Lady, all through counsel’s submission, he kept on saying that the applicant had been detained unlawfully and this is unfair, unconstitutional and unconscionable.
We want to set the record straight that even though the constitution guarantees personal liberty, the same constitution has spelt out situations where that liberty can be curtailed and one of them is detention pending trial.”
She added that although the prosecution called 16 witnesses and tendered several exhibits, the hung jury verdict could not decide the fate of the accused.
Ms Fiadzo stated that there had not been an unreasonable delay in the case as the first trial was truncated because the second accused, who was on the run, had been arrested, and it was only proper that the case started de novo, since they were charged with conspiracy.
The court was assured that the prosecution would follow due process and was ready to start the ‘third’ trial, as their witnesses were ready and eager to testify again.
The prosecutor told the court that they were of a firm belief if Afoko was granted bail he would not appear to stand trial due to the severity of the crime.
“They can bring all the sureties in the world and give us… the justification, but if the applicant absconds what will the state and the family of the deceased derive from the properties used for the justification. This is why we are ready to go the extra mile to ensure that justice is served,” she asserted.
The court, having listened to arguments from both lawyers, set June 1 to deliver a ruling.
Gregory is the junior brother of a dismissed National Chairman of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Paul Afoko.
Gregory Afoko was charged together with Asabke Alangbi for conspiracy to murder and murder.
They were accused of killing the late Upper Eastern Chairman of the NPP, Adams Mahama, in 2016.
Both Afoko and Asabka pleaded not guilty to the offences, but last month a seven-member jury unanimously pronounced Asabke guilty for conspiracy to murder.
The capital punishment, death by hanging, was pronounced on Asabke, as spelt out by the law.
Afoko’s case would start de-novo due to the indecisive decision by the jury.