It was another day in the Ofaakor District Court in Kasoa in the Central Region. Two teenage suspects are standing trial for the murder of an 11 year-old Ishmael Abdallah.
The two have been in police custody; one of them, 16 year-old Felix Nyarko, whose age is currently in contention.
He has been in juvenile cells, I am told. His accomplice Nicholas Kini by the way is 18, as the prosecution told the court on April 3.
The suspects arrived
The police vehicle sirens announced to all in court, the arrival of the suspects (one accused and a juvenile; as the lawyers and the court want us to describe them).
A bunch of us dash to the entrance of the district court building; to catch a glimpse.
Those of us who needed to take photos and make videos had the opportunity to. (You know how this our job goes).
They were accompanied by a number of gun-wielding police men, who jacked off the police van and ushered them out.
There they were, (I’ll talk about their body language and visage soon) walking sheepishly cuffed to each other.
As they walked towards the entrance of the courtroom, they occasionally adjusted their falling pants, and tried to straighten the rips on their jeans.
Then one of the men accompanying them, yielding to a call for them to be given masks; fitted the masks on their faces, one after another.
Then they were ushered in to a packed court room, never mind some of the attendees were in for other cases.
Body language in court
Before long we hear, ‘court rise’; the judge was upon us. The case was to be called.
The presiding judge, Samuel Kwesi Adjei assumed his seat, there was not much to say about his mannerism and facials beneath the mask he wore.
I saw his face once their entire time when he took off the mask to sip in some water.
Then then the case was called….the two; one accused and one juvenile had their names loudly mentioned in court.
I am not sure i heard them respond even though I was within meters of the pew on which they sat, side-by-side obviously because they were in cuffs.
Someone from behind tapped them on the shoulder and asked them to mount the witness box.
Felix Nyarko and Nicholas Kini sluggishly rose and reached for the doc.
The two had their heads bent, occasionally they would lift up their eyes, like unto the heavens and take in gasps of breath.
Felix Nyarko particularly looked indifferent, I struggled to spot any emotions on his half masked face.
Only his sea blue short sleeved shirt with his unbent collar over a pair of ripped pants over a black flip-flop could be seen from where I sat.
Nicholas Kini on the other hand, wore a long sleeved striped shirt, over black jeans.
It was difficult to say if their hair eventhough trimmed, was tidied before their appearance in court.
But that would not matter much to the judge who asked the prosecution to rise to his feet to be heard.
Chief Inspector Ernest Agbo, in his customary police uniform rose to his feet and prayed the court to grant them more time to establish the age of the juvenile.
Hang on! The judge his worship Samuel Kwesi Adjei asked the prosecution…
“Do you still call them both accused?”
Chief Inspector Agbo, made the correction. My lord, the “accused and the juvenile”.
While the prosecutor was on his feet, his worship Samuel Adjei asked, “where is their lawyer? They are not represented? Why, how?”
A lawyer who was in court earlier, on another case, presided over by the same judge, walked into the courtroom and was ordered by the court to represent the (accused and the juvenile) and apply for bail for them.
Samuel Atuah rose to his feet and told prayed the court grants them bail, quoting articles 19 (2) (c), 19 (6).
He argued the two have parents and relatives who could reasonably provide them whenever they are needed for investigations.
He said the two have been in custody for sometime and needed to be granted a flexible bail, as the case progresses.
But chief inspector Ernest Agbo contested the bail appeal, arguing the two are safer in the custody of the police, judging from the anger among community folk over the matter.
They fear they could be harmed if they are granted bail. He also argued investigators needed some more time to establish the age of the 16 year old Felix Nyarko.
He told the court police has made headway in this regard; having identified the hospital where he was born and the various schools he is thought to have attended and are in the process of reconciling the documents to establish his age.
Chief inspector Ernest Agbo told the court mother of the 16 year old when variously questioned could not tell the exact date the “juvenile” was born.
In giving directions, the court ordered that
- By the next adjourned date on May 4, 2021 the prosecution should have been able to establish the age of the juvenile for the matter to proceed.
- The prosecution should have prepared a duplicate docket to be submitted to the attorney General ‘s office for advice on the trail of the accused that’s the second accused Nicholas Kini (18).
The case was adjourned to May 4, 2021.
Outside the court
Outside the court, the accused person and the juvenile were whisked into the waiting police van to be taken into custody.
The 16 year old to the juvenile cells and the 18 year old to the main police cells.
The lawyer who represented the two in court told the media he was not surprised his bail application was turned down.
“The court said it did not have jurisdiction to try this matter and therefore once it didn’t have the jurisdiction to do so, it cannot also grant the suspects or rather the accused and the juvenile, bail.”
He said, “I argued that the prosecution can not use technicalities and delayance to infringe on the rights of the two persons. But the court ruled in favour of the prosecution that keeping them was for their own safety and so well, they are on the ground and they know what the signals are.”
Asked whether he was going to take the matter up and file another bail application, Samuel Atuah said, “ill have to get to Chambers and see what to do next.”
For the family, represented in court by father of the 11 year old deceased, Frank Mensah Abdallah, uncles of the late Ishmael Abdallah and spokesperson Samed Akalilu, it is disappointing that the “simple matter of determining the age of the juvenile has taken this long.”
Samed Akalilu told me, “it is beginning to look like the expedited trial we are seeking may not happen, judging from what transpired in court on the matter of the contentious age of Felix Nyarko. “
” But we are hopeful this would be over soon, as we have said we want justice for Ishmael. We cannot bring him back to life but the perpetrators must not go scott free. “
He stressed, the family is law-abiding and would not take maters into their own hands to avenge the death of their kinsman.
“I can assure you from the family point of view, we trust in the police to do their job. If we didn’t believe in them we would not have been here. But as you know, you cannot control the pent up emotions of the community folk who are still embittered by what happened.”
We are back on May 4, 2021!
By Komla Adom|3news.com|Ghana