TWO suspects on remand, Patricia Akua Manso and Yaw Parko, who have been on remand for a total of 16 years, have regained their freedom under the Access to Justice Programme.
Twenty-year-old Patricia Akua Manso went on remand at the Kumasi Central Prisons at the age of 15 on a provisional charge of murder while Yaw has been on remand for 11 years for threat of death.
An emotional Patricia, who has claimed innocence of the charge and rather blamed her uncle for the offence, shed tears after the High Court, presided over by Mr Justice Frank Amoah, gave her unconditional bail.
The Access to Justice Programme is an initiative meant to help in decongesting the country’s prisons by targeting prisoners whose warrants have expired. A warrant is said to have expired when one is detained in prison without being heard in court.
The programme is the brainchild of the Ministry of Justice, the Judicial Service, the Ghana Police and Prisons Services in collaboration with the Lietner Centre for International Law and Justice at the Fordham Law School in New York, and students of the Faculty of Law of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology.
The High Court, which began hearing cases of remand prisoners whose warrants had expired while on remand in the Kumasi Central Prisons, was billed to hear 52 cases.
Among the cases were those related to murder, stealing, threat of death, and narcotic drugs.
Lawyer Kofi Abotsi, who stated Patricia’s case in the court, which is sitting at the Kumasi Central Prisons, volunteered to take custody of her in the interim.
This was after she stated that she had no one to live with, since her uncle was also on remand at the prisons.
On the first day of the court’s hearing, none of the 18 people who were heard was released on bail but their expired warrants were extended.
However, four of them, Patricia Yeboah, Afua Kyekye, Kwaku Poku and Yaw Kyeremeh, who had been in the prisons because they could not get anyone to sign their bail bond, were asked to contact their relatives through a social welfare officer after they indicated that their relatives were now ready to sign the bond.
The judge further ordered that three others — Baba Tahiru, Kwadwo Sarfo and Aduma Tigre — who had been on remand for various periods on the charge of robbery, were also ordered by the judge to be brought before the Kumasi High Court One on September 14, 2009.
On the first day of sitting, the court also subpoenaed the Konongo Magistrate’s Court, as well as some police officers and court officials, to appear before it to explain some issues relating to some dockets which were said to be missing.