…After Plea Bargain
Eric Kojo Duah, the man standing trial for the murder of two police officers on the Kasoa-Budumburam-Accra stretch in August 2019 has been jailed for 20 years after entering an agreement with the State under the Plea Bargaining law.
Kojo Duah, said to have shot and killed General Lance Corporal Mohammed Awal and Lance Corporal Michael Dzamesi on August 28, 2019, denied two charges of murder but pleaded guilty to Manslaughter.
Per the agreement Kojo Duah had with the Republic, he wanted a 10 years lesser punishment for manslaughter rather than murder.
But, after his conviction, Justice Marie-Louise Simmons, sentenced him to 20 years in prison on each of the two counts.
However, the court said, the sentences are to run concurrently, meaning Kojo Duah will serve only 20 years in jail.
On Tuesday, October 31, 2023, the lawyers of Kojo Duah, Augustine Obour notified the Court of the agreements his client had had with the state to plead guilty to manslaughter instead of murder.
“My Lady, we humbly pray to plead guilty to a lesser offence under Section 239 of Act 30 (1960) as agreed with the Prosecution,” Counsel told the Court.
He added that, “subject to the convenience of the court we are ready to do it today (October 31).”
“My prayer is in respect of A1-Eric Kojo Duah, (Counsel reads out to the Court) we are ready to plead not guilty to the offence of murder but guilty of offence to manslaughter as agreed by the Prosecution,” Augustine Obour told the Court.
“We have done this with the Prosecution and we have agreed on the sentence of ten (10) years accordingly. We pray humbly,” Counsel submitted.
Nana Ama Prempeh, Senior State Attorney for her part told the Court, the accused had approached the prosecution but they were not averse with the request.
“My Lady respectfully, we have been approached by counsel for the A1 to consider the change of his client’s plea to that of a guilty plea to manslaughter. We are not averse to this request,” Nana Ama Prempeh told the Court.
Plea to charges
Following the presentations by the legal representatives of the Prosecution and the Accused, Justice Simmons sought clarity from the accused person.
The pleas of Eric Kojo Duah were taken on two counts of murder but while pleading not guilty to murder, he pleaded guilty to two counts of manslaughter.
Justice Marie-Louise Simmons consequently convicted the first accused for manslaughter under Section 239 (2), Act 30.
In his mitigation plea for his client following his conviction, Lawyer Augustine Obour said his client is a first time offender and prayed for a lesser punishment.
“We have agreed with the Prosecution before the proceedings today and we pray we go accordingly.
“The convict is a first time offender, he has also learnt his lessons from being in custody for a long time, from August 2019 to date, 31st October 2023.
“Until this incident, the convict had been a responsible citizen going about his duties normally as evidenced in the facts presented by the Prosecution.
“We pray that the Court will give him the opportunity to come back to the community as soon as possible to continue his good deeds to the Republic,” he prayed the Court.
Impose a punitive punishment
Nana Ama Prempeh told the Court that, the punishment must reflect the offense committed despite the agreement.
“Prosecution finds it a great relief that the 1st Accused person has admitted to the offence of killing two police officers who were in their line of duty.
“We humbly pray that the offence he committed is grave and it should attract a punishment that is deterrent enough to likeminded persons.
“We pray that the sentence imposed should take effect from the date of sentence in spite of the times he has spent in custody,” the Senior State Attorney told the Court.
Counsel for the Convict told the Court that, his client had made efforts to engage the family of the deceased but there has been no agreement.
“My Lady we have made attempt to calm the families of the deceased but we could not agree. My Lady what we have decided to do is to engage the children on our own without any family matter.
“We will do so when we are done serving our sentence. So we decided to negotiate with the prosecution as we have done today but we have good intentions,” Augustine Obour told the Court.
The Court in the light of the new Plea Bargaining principles on the involvement of victims or families of the deceased in plea negotiations, heard from a family member of the deceased.
Peter Koku Dzamesi, a family member of the deceased, Michael Dotse Dzamesi, spoke to the Court.
“My Lady, the family came to us to plead for forgiveness but nothing has been done. That is what they did.
“We are humans so the family listened to them but we gave them an offer but they did not tell us anything.
“We informed them that Michael has six children so the offer was to the children. We are on a process with the police service to provide something for the children,” Doku Dzamesi told the Court.
“I have listened to the submissions made by counsel for the 1st Accused person on mitigation and for the Republic on the aggravating factors to consider.
“I have also listened to the family member of Michael Dzamesi to the effect that he left behind six children,” Justice Simmons Stated.
She said on plea bargaining under Section 239 of Act 30, I refer to the case of Alhaji Yusif Alhassan alias Obolo vs. The Republic (reported in Dennis Law as 2016 DLCA 4525) dated 29th February 2016.
“I also make reference to the principles of sentencing as held in cases such as Adu Boahene vs. The Republic (1972) 1 GLR 70 and Kamil vs. The Republic (2011) SCGLR 300.
“The incident in this case occurred on 28th August 2019. The Bill of Indictment was filed on 3rd July 2020 and he was committed to stand trial on 23rd July 2020,” she stated.
“Pursuant to Article 14 (6) of the Constitution, I have considered that A1 has spent about 5years in custody,” Justice Simmons stated.
“The mitigating factor per my view that he is a first-time offender and this process has reduced the burden on the Court ad on the prosecution to prove the case to the end of it.
“Per his investigation caution statement, he was 32years at the time of the incident, therefore, not a juvenile or a young offender. I must state that personally, I have not seen any sign of remorse shown by the 1st Accused person in this Court.
“It has always been his family members and his lawyer. The nature of the offence was such in my view raising disrespect for authority.
“For a civilian to shoot two policemen on the street, not once but about twice each leading to their death.
Threat to public life
Justice Simmons said, “this is a threat to public safety and security” and “from the facts, the Accused had actually committed some road traffic offence for which the police was pursuing him.”
The Court said, “to have shot both of them on the street with onlookers was dangerous,” and “I am obliged to take into consideration the public interest which I am doing and I refer to the case of Amaniampong vs. The Republic (unreported) dated 28th May 2014.
Having considered with the above including the sentencing guidelines, Justice Simmons sentenced Eric Kojo Duah to 20 years imprisonment on each count of Manslaughter to take effects from October 31.
The Court said, the punishment are to run concurrently, meaning Kojo Duah will serve only 20 years in jail.
“I am unhappy that the Ghana Police Service since I took over has shown no interest in this matter,” Justice Simmons expressed.
The court also said, the convict has the right to appeal.