Defence lawyers of Gregory Afoko, the 53-year-old farmer who has been charged together with one other for the murder of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Upper East Regional Chairman have accused the police investigator of “being untruthful” to court.
Lawyer Stephen Sorwah Charway, lead counsel for Afoko while subjecting the investigator, Chief Inspector Augustus Nkrumah, 16th Prosecution Witness (PW16), accused him of not telling the court the truth of the police investigations.
Counsel had raised doubt about the circumstances leading to how the said liquid substance in a gallon purported to be the acid substance was “loosely” transported to Accra from Bolgatanga.
Afoko, and one Asabke Alangde are currently before the High Court in Accra standing trial for allegedly pouring a substance believed to be acid, which subsequently led to the death of the NPP Regional Chairman Adams Mahama.
They have both pleaded not guilty to murder and conspiracy and have been held in lawful custody
Under further cross-examination, before the Court presided over by Her Ladyship Justice Afua Merley Wood, led counsel for Afoko, accused the investigator, Chief Inspector Augustus Nkrumah of peddling lies in court.
“I’m putting it to you that you are not being truthful to the court. What you are telling the court is just not plausible,” counsel said.
But, the witness denied such claims, saying “I’m being truthful to the court.”
It was the case of counsel that, the witness tendered in evidence that, the clothing and shoes of the deceased were soaked in acid.
Counsel explained again that, these clothing and shoes were the items according to the investigator were worn by the deceased on the night of the incident.
But, upon all that, the feet of the late NPP Chairman had no injuries if indeed his shoes were soaked in acid.
In his response, the investigator said, “that is what the Bolga Police team told the Accra team when handling over the case to them.”
The investigator said, as professionals, the Accra team took them for their worth.
Per the Pathologist’s report, it was conclusive that, the deceased did not suffer any injuries to his feet, a development counsel described as “strange.”
But, Chief Inspector Nkrumah said, “it depends on the type of shoes the deceased was wearing and once it was the Bolga police that called on the scene and had access to that exhibit as the one the deceased wore on that day, we collected same from them and subjected same to forensic examination. As to why the feet, was not wounded, I cant explain, as I am sitting here.”
Asked by counsel again to tell which type of shoes he considers it to be, he said, “Although I am not an expert, I am referring to the texture of the shoes.”
As an investigative officer, he said, he wouldn’t know how the acid found it way into the shoes of the deceased when asked by counsel to tell the court.
Acid gallon covered with Cellotape
It was also the case of the investigator that, it was PW8 (Wife of the deceased), who found the gallon at the crime scene and gave to the Bolga team.
“According to the Bolga team, the deceased wife told them and that she found that exhibit on the floor beside the car door where the deceased was sitting,” he noted.
The investigator told the court that, when the Bolga team was handing over the exhibit to them (Accra team), “they had covered it with a cellotape.”
But when his attention was drawn that, the gallon he tendered in evidence in the trial had no cellotape on it, the witness offered explanation.
“I believe when it was sent for forensic examination, that was where it must have been opened in order to have access to the substance,” he explained.
When Counsel sought his explanation that, even though Exhibit ‘W’ (gallon) did not have a cover at the time it was retrieved, was he suggesting that, it was official at GSA who took out the cellotape and placed a cover on it?
The witness said, “If exhibits are sent to the GSA, and were being brought back to the police after examination, they have a way of sealing them. It can be opened when the exhibit is being tendered in court.”
Asked to tell the court if the police were comfortable with the GSA changing the state of gallon in the way they saw fit and different to the way in which the exhibit was presented to them for examination, the witness said he “presumed” so.
“The exhibit was the same gallon containing the liquid substance and as experts on the field, knowing how dangerous that chemicals will be, that is why I presumed they did it that way.”
“I presumed that is how they handle their issues. Because if exhibits are being sent to them, the police have a seal on it, after they have received and examined it, they bring it back to the police and they also have a way of preserving it,” he said to buttress his answer.
He told the court that, the time exhibit ‘W’ (gallon) was retrieved by the police, there was some liquid substance and “was transported safe” to Accra.
Lawyer Charway then put to him that, by transporting a gallon containing a liquid substance suspected to be acid in it, and with it being covered “loosely” with just a cellotape, there was a tendency for “spillages and splashes” when it’s in transit.
The investigator said, “The police knowing very well the content it was, made sure that, it arrived safely without any splashes or spillages.
It was at this point that counsel put it to the investigator that, “you are not being truthful to the court” and that, what he was telling the court is just not plausible.
But, the investigator said, “I’m being very truthful to this court.”
The Investigator also told the court that, the wife of the late Adams Mahama who was the PW8 in the ongoing trial, did not demonstrate to the police team how she pulled her late husband from his car single handedly.
He said during interrogation of pw8, she demonstrate to the police how, she pulled the deceased out of the car single handedly,
It was the case of the defence lawyers that, if someone assist or pull someone out of a car, such as, the wife said she did, certain parts of her body will have come into contact with him.
Chief Inspector Nkrumah in his response said, “It is possible depending on how the one assisting handles the situation.”
The Witness also told the court that, the deceased he saw at the mortuary was a well built man, but disagreed with defence counsel’s position that, with the size and stature of the deceased, “it will be impossible for him to be pulled out from the car without the use of one’s hands.”
“As I told this court, it will depend on how one assisting handles the situation,” the Witness emphasised.
No hands examination
Asked by counsel if the hands of the wife of the late NPP Chairman was subjected to examination during the investigations, the witness answered in the negative.
“We didn’t because, she only showed us where she sustained the burns and that if the fingers have had a problem at the time, she would have shown to us at the time.
He explained that, the burns were on chest, breast and upper side of the hands getting to the shoulders.
The Investigator also told the court that, they did not also subject the clothings of PW8 to examination during the investigations.
When it was put to him that, it was impossible for someone to pull out a well-built man like the deceased just with her shoulder and upper part of her right breast or chest being burnt, the witness insisted that, “it depends on how the person handles the situation.”
When it was again put to him that, it does not depend on how an individual handles the situation as he want the court to believe, the witness maintained his position.
Afoko’s ‘track suit’ or rain coat
Chief Inspector Augustus Nkrumah also told the court that, the police team took the trousers (Track suit) from Afoko’s room when they visited his house.
Asked if the said trousers they picked was what the police referred to it as the “track suit”, the witness said, “that was the description we gave to the exhibit.”
When counsel put to him that, a look at the said trousers (Exhibit P), it is more like a “rain coat” than a track suit, the witness offered explanation.
“As I told the court, we gave the description track suit to the exhibit the very day that we picked the exhibit. But when it was shown to A1 (Afoko) after he has identified the exhibit as his, that was the time he told us, he uses it as a rain coat for his farming.”
The witness told the court that, the said trousers had “tear” at the bottom of the trousers.
He also told the court that, Afoko’s body was subjected to forensic examination to ascertain the cause of the wounds and scares on his body when he was arrested.
It was the case of counsel therefore to the witness that, at the time he saw these wounds on Afoko, he did not know the cause of the wounds.
In his response, he said, “We are not medical officers to know what exactly caused the wounds that was why he was taken to the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital for him to be examined by a specialist to give a report on him.”
When it was suggested to him that, the medical report did not states what the exact cause of the wound was, the witness said, “Per the medical officer’s report, it gave a general view about what the wounds were.”
Chief Inspector Augustus Nkrumah told the court that, when the said exhibit P was shown to Afoko, he told them, that, the cause of the burns “was as a result of the heat generated by his motorcycle.”
The investigator said, they only took away the trousers and left the upper part of the rain coat, ” because there was nothing on it that warrant us to take it.”
Splashes of acid
The investigator told the court that, they took the said trousers which had “some splash or liquid” on its front part.
But, when the said trousers was shown to him in the witness box, the investigator could not point to the spots of the said liquid splashes on the exhibit P.
“These splashes you have tried very hard to identify cannot be seen on this exhibit today,” counsel put to the witness.
But in his response, Chief Inspector Nkrumah said, “The very time the exhibit was picked, there were those splashes that, I am taking about.”
Ghana Standards Authority report
He answered in the affirmative when asked if he was aware that, the Ghana Standards Authority (GSA) report concluded that, the acid substance has a purity level of over 90%.
He also told the court that, he is aware that the GSA report states that, the sulphuric acid are very corrosive substance when asked by counsel.
When the trousers was shown to him, and asked to tell or indicate if he can see any holes on where he claimed he saw the holes, the witness said, “There are no holes.”
Counsel then put to him, there were no splashes on exhibit P (trousers) when the police retrieved it from the house of Afoko.
“They were. That was why it was sent for forensic examination, because the police cannot determine what type of liquid substance it was unless the examiner speaks to it,” he noted.
The case has been adjourned to May 30, 2022 for lawyer Andrew Kudzo Vortia, counsel for Asabke Alangde (A2) to subject the investigator to further cross-examination.