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State Given Ultimatum In Four-Year Murder Case

Jun 11, 2009, 7:00 AM | Article By: Modou Sanyang

Justice Moses Richard, the Presiding Judge at the newly created special court at the High Court has given the state prosecutor one more opportunity to proceed with the murder case involving one Victor Akar, failing which he would "unhastedly" discharge the accused.

The accused Victor Akar was alleged to have murdered one Isaac Ofili sometime in 2005, at Latrikunda Sabiji.

According to Justice Richard, the nature of the offence and the need to protect the society from dangerous crimes as alleged against the accused. Thus, "this put on the sake of justice with the need to protect fundamental human right as enshrined in the constitution". He added that the balance herein is in favour of the latter in view of the fact that four years of incarceration with no proof of guilt against the accused person violates another constitutional provision which provides for the right to a fair hearing within a reasonable time.

Justice Moses Richard further stated that in this view, if the court was minded to exercise it judicious discretion it must unequivocally is at least discharge the accused person. He said "the possibility for this could be open whenever the state is not in a position to prove the allegation against the accused".

"The court will not however exercise such a discretion as at this point, but will allow the prosecution one more opportunity to prepare itself to proceed with this case failing which, I will unhastedly discharge the accused person," he added.

In his earlier application for the court to acquit and discharge the accused person, Defence Counsel Kebba Sanyang submitted that the accused was first arraigned at the Bundung Magistrates' Court on 14 December 2005. He said since then the prosecution had failed to call a single witness and that the accused is in custody without being tried.

According to Defence Counsel Kebba Sanyang, this was a violation of the accused's fundamental human rights as guaranteed by the constitution. He said "for four years the accused had been confined without trial when the position of the law was that an accused person is presumed innocence until proven guilty by the court." He submitted that the constitution provides that an accused person should be accorded a fair hearing and within a reasonable time. He therefore urged the court to acquit and discharge the accused.

In response to the defence counsel's application, the Deputy Director of Public Prosecution, Mr. Abdullah told the court that the case was at the time handled by the police, but now he's being prosecuted by the state. He said the court should consider the nature of the offence as it is a capital offence, and that there is a need to protect the society. He said he believes that by the next adjourned date they would be able to get the case file from the police.

Hearing continues.