Two men accused of robbing three residents at Akporman in the Ga East District of the Greater Accra region in 2018 have been acquitted and discharged by the Accra Circuit Court. Samuel Plange, alias Tugah and Issah Alhassan spent two years on remand but were set free Wednesday after the court ruled that the prosecution failed to establish prima facie (based on the first impression; accepted as correct until proved otherwise) against them. The court, presided over by Ms Afia Owusuaa Appiah, held that the prosecution was unable to establish that it was actually the two accused persons who committed the robbery.
During the trial, the prosecution called the investigator as the only witness to prove its case. This was due to the fact that the complainants who claim the accused persons robbed them failed to testify because they had moved out of the country. After the prosecution had closed its case, counsel for the accused persons, Mr Andrew Vortia, filed a submission of no case against the prosecution. He argued that the testimony of the investigator was riddled with inconsistencies and also the prosecution failed to present any evidence linking his clients to the robbery. In its ruling, the court upheld the submission of no case filed by counsel. “Prosecution failed to fulfill the fundamental ingredient of ascertaining the identity of the accused as those who committed the robbery. “No prima facie case has been established against the accused persons. They are therefore, acquitted and discharged per Section 173 of the Criminal and other Offences (Procedure Act), 1960 (Act 30).”
Section 173 of Act 30 stipulates that “Where at the close of the evidence in support of the charge, it appears to the Court that a case is not made out against the accused sufficiently to require the accused to make a defence, the Court shall, as to that particular charge, acquit the accused.”
After acquitting the two accused persons, the presiding judge advised them to be careful with the sort of friends they mingled with. According to her, failure of the material witnesses to testify made it difficult for the prosecution to prove its case, and, therefore, they should be careful in life and never do anything that would make them suspects of a crime. “You have your years ahead of you, utilize it well. Just be very careful with your associations,” she said. Family members of the Plange and Alhassan broke into wild jubilation when their beloved were set free by the court. Ignoring social distancing protocols, they hugged lawyer Vortia and the two discharged persons when they came out of the courtroom.