The family of former Minister of Energy, Fred Ohene-Kena has described the reliance on the Police prosecutors in criminal cases as an outmoded practice. They added it has outlived its tenure and usefulness.
They contend, that most Police Prosecutors who handle criminal cases lack the requisite training. Also, they lack professional competence to effectively prosecute cases against perpetrators of crime.
In addition, they tend to falter, legally, when challenged by experienced Lawyers; such lawyers mount strong legal technicalities to get their clients either discharged or have their sentences reduced significantly.
Mr Kwame Ayim Ampofo, a nephew of Mr Ohene-Kena, claimed that his family suffered that fate because of an uncommitted and ill-prepared Police Prosecution; leading to their case being truncated by a Court in Accra, for lack of sufficient evidence.
He said in several instances, criminals received rewards instead of being punished for acts frowned upon by the law. Meanwhile, victims are left desolate, devastated and denied the right to justice.
According to him, while the government and the Judiciary are strenuously working to digitize the judicial system to speed up the discharge of justice in the country, attention must also be focused on the human elements within justice delivery.
Mr Ayim Ampofo called on the Attorney-General and the Judicial Council to work towards phasing out the Police in prosecutorial roles in the administration of justice. “The practice has left many justice-seekers short-changed and in some cases, emotionally and intellectually traumatized.”
The Facts: Fred Ohene-Kena’s ordeal
Mr Ohene-Kena, who incidentally was on the Judicial Council as government representative in the previous regime, suffered a massive stroke at about 2.00 am two years ago. For very strange reasons, his wife, who lives with him failed to immediately call for medical help until 8.00 am in the morning. A Doctor she called in to check on the ailing man left without any significant attempt to improve his situation.
The wife did not inform the man’s four children, three of whom reside in Accra. She did not inform the rest of the family about his condition until Mr Ohene-Kena’s older son drove to the house unannounced at 8.00 pm; he discovered the father partially paralyzed, drooling and unable to speak.
Before being discovered by the Son, the Step-Mother had insisted on the telephone that the ailing Fred Ohene-Kena was doing well. In actual fact, he was battling for survival after the massive stroke. The denial of medical attention nearly cost Mr Ohene-Kena his life but for the timely intervention of his son. The children quickly called their Uncle, a Medical Doctor and together they sent him to the Nyaho Medical Centre.
It emerged later that the Doctor invited by the Step-Mother to take care of the ailing man had no practising license; the children filed a complaint with the Police against their stepmother after consulting with members of their Father’s extended family.
According to Mr Ayim Ampofo, the Investigators did not even visit the house to conduct thorough questioning. They couldn’t establish the facts surrounding the case because their Step-Mother refused to let them into the house. Consequently, when the case was called, the Prosecution pushed a ‘very shoddy and feeble argument’ in court; this lead to the dismissal of the case and acquittal of the stepmother.
He asserted that receiving a raw deal in Ghana’s judicial system because of sloppy prosecution is as devastating as someone being accused wrongly and sentenced for a crime they did not commit.
“Those seeking for justice also get extremely disappointed when lapses within the justice system result in the miscarriage of justice for selfish reasons and administrative incompetence.” He contended.
He, therefore, called on the government and the Attorney General to look critically at the issue. He asked to initiate reforms to take care of the needs of complainants and victims as well.