Afoko not guilty; Alangde sentenced to death by hanging

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Gregory Afoko
Gregory Afoko

Mr Gregory Afoko, who has been on trial for the past eight (8) years together with Asabke Alangdi, the secomd accused person, for the murder of a former refional chairman of the governing New Patriotic Party in the Upper East, has been found not guilty by a seven-member panel in a 4-3 verdict.

Close verdicts of that nature, per the Criminal Procedure Act, 1960 (Act 30), are, however, considered hung decisions that necessitate a retrial.

Mr Afoko, a brother of former NPP Chairman Paul Afoko, was accused of conspiring with Alangdi to kill Alhaji Adam Mahama, also known as ‘Red’, in 2015.

Meanwhile, the High Court has ordered for a retrial of Gregory Afoko who has been on trial for eight years over the death of late Upper East Regional Chairman of the New Patriotic Party, Alhaji Adams Mahama.

The second accused person, Asabke Alangde has also been sentenced to death by hanging.

This follows the decision of the Jury in the case to return a not guilty verdict of 4-3 in both the murder and conspiracy to commit murder charges against Gregory Afoko.

The jury however returned a unanimous guilty verdict on the charge of conspiracy to commit murder against the second accused person Asabke Alangde.

The two have been standing trial for the murder of the late NPP chairman Adams Mahama who was killed in 2015.

Gregory Afoko was arrested in 2015 days after it was confirmed that some unknown persons had poured acid on the then-NPP Upper East Regional chairman.

Asabke Alangde
Gregory Afoko was on trial from 2015 until 2019 when the state filed a Nolle Prosequi in the matter with the hope of starting the case afresh.

Meanwhile, the second accused person, Asabke Alangde who was on the run was arrested in 2019.

Following the arrest of the second accused person, the state in 2019 charged the two with counts of conspiracy to commit murder and murder. In the over three years of the new trial, the state called 16 witnesses to prove its case.

The first accused person Gregory Afoko on his part called two witnesses while the second accused person did not call any witnesses.

The case against Gregory Afoko and Asabke Alangde is that the deceased before his death informed several persons at the crime scene, on the way to the hospital and in the hospital that the two accused persons were responsible for his injuries which later led to his death.

Prosecution presented witnesses who testified in court that the deceased truly revealed the persons who committed the offence to him.

Prosecution also presented a tracksuit belonging to Gregory Afoko which an expert witness testified that it had traces of acid which was in the gallon retrieved from the crime scene.

One of the prosecution’s witnesses also testified that Gregory Afoko had earlier told him that he was ‘going to show’ the deceased.

The case against Asabke Alangde on the other hand was that he was with Gregory Afoko between the period the two were suspected to have committed the crime according to prosecution witnesses.

One of the Prosecution’s witnesses testified that the two were at a pub called lovers inn hours before the incident and left together at 10 pm.

The state based on these was confident that it had proved its case beyond reasonable doubt. The ingredients that the state was required to prove according to the Judge included that:

The deceased was indeed dead
The death was caused by harm and the harm was unlawful
The harm was caused by the accused persons
The harm was intentional
Prosecution’s case was that the circumstantial evidence linking the accused persons to the incident and how the harm was caused was enough to prove its case.

The two accused persons in their defence however denied the claims made by prosecution.

JUDGEMENT

The jury after considering these arguments following the summing up made by Justice Afua Merley Wood came with their verdict after 40 minutes of deliberation.

The seven-member jury by a 4-3 verdict decided that Gregory Afoko was not guilty of the charges of murder and conspiracy to commit murder.

The judge after reading this verdict stated that “there is a hung jury and there will be retrial for A1 (Gregory Afoko) on both counts”.

The jury however returned a unanimous verdict of guilty of conspiracy to commit murder for second accused person while they returned a 4-3 verdict of not guilty for Asabke Alangde.

The second accused was not happy with the verdict and prayed to the court saying “My Lord, I haven’t done anything, and I am pleading with the court.”

His lawyers joined in saying “My Lord should consider the accused as a first-time offender and also the circumstances surrounding this trial. My lady will see that the accused person was charged with two offences. Just like the first accused the members of the jury were undecided on the charge which arguably is the more serious of the two offences”.

“This decision is no doubt subject to several interpretations and consequences and decisions after today’s sitting. In mitigation, therefore, we respectfully pray this court to tamper justice with mercy to come up with a decision that is favourable to all. This is definitely not the last time we’ll hear about this case.”

State prosecutor Appiah Opare, however, reminded the court that “It is very clear from section 24 of Act 29 that the punishment for conspiracy to commit an offence is the same punishment that is meted out to the substantive offence and in this case the substantive offence is murder and the punishment for murder is death so the punishment for conspiracy to commit murder is death. That is what the statute says. The hands of this court are tied. There is no lesser punishment.”

Justice Afua Merley Wood who agreed with this argument of the state sentenced the accused to death by hanging saying “The men and women you selected to try you have found you guilty. You are hereby sentenced to death by hanging. May God have mercy on your soul.”

Mr Asabke’s lawyers intend to appeal against the verdict.

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