Lawyer questions psychiatric evaluation of Mahama’s gunman

A private legal practitioner has questioned the basis for the Human Rights Court order for a psychiatric evaluation of the man who attempted to assassinate President John Dramani Mahama in July.

Charles Antwi, said to be mentally deranged, was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment by an Accra Circuit Court for possession of firearm without licence but that was quashed Monday by the Human Rights Court.

Quashing the 10-year jail term, Justice J.A. Okwabi ordered that Charles Antwi be evaluated for psychiatry disorder.

But the Accra-based lawyer, Dr. Yaw Oppong has raised issues with the court’s order describing it as a nullity, contending that there was no criminal trial of Charles Antwi at the High Court based on which the court could have grounded its order.

“On what basis did the High Court, with all due respect, asked that he should be placed in custody at the Psychiatric Hospital, because there is no trial before that High Court,” he told Accra-based radio station, 92.7 FM on Tuesday.

“For me, he has been convicted and conviction has been set aside. There should be no issue of placing him before the psychiatric hospital. That also amount to detention, and that detention is also unlawful,” he added.

Dr. Oppong argued that per the order for certiorari, which was filed before the Human Rights Court, there was no relief that the convict be sent for psychiatry evaluation, adding “if there was one, that in itself was also improper”.

Charles Antwi could have been convicted properly without any issue of insanity of mind. The question is did he have in his possession a firearm? Yes! Did he have lawful authority to posses, no!

Touching on the insanity or otherwise of Antwi, he said that should not be an issue at all in the trial, contending that Antwi committed an offence and whether he is sane or not doesn’t matter.

“He has committed an offence, and in this case, whether he was insane or not doesn’t matter. Are we saying that because he was insane he didn’t know that he had in his possession a firearm?

Is he saying that because he was insane or presumed to be insane he didn’t’ know the nature of the item he was holding? Are we saying that because he was presumed insane he did not know or have appreciated what that weapon could do?” he said

That could have happen. It is for a judge to determine and a judge can even decide to disregard an expert opinion. My point is what happened in court yesterday.


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