The Accra Circuit Court is puzzled as to how a substance alleged to be cocaine which was seized from an accused person, confirmed by the police to be cocaine after testing and weighing 1,020 grammes later turned out to be sodium carbonate (commonly known as washing soda) after the court had ordered another test to be conducted by the Ghana Standards Board (GSB).

After more than three years into the trial, the court on Tuesday called on the Inspector-General of Police (IGP) to, as a matter of urgency, institute a service inquiry to determine who might have tampered or changed the drug alleged to have been found on the accused person and prescribe the necessary sanctions. {jcomments on}

The substance had been in the custody of the police and the court ruled that if the allegation was true, it was a serious indictment on the efforts by the law enforcement agencies to curtail the drug menace in the country.

The court made the recommendation when it acquitted and discharged an accused person, Nana Ama Martin, of the charge of possessing cocaine, in the trial which was aborted after the court had upheld a submission of ‘no case’ made by counsel for the accused person.

The trial judge, Mr Eric Kyei Baffour, expressed misgivings at the way the trial was conducted, as the State Attorney in the matter became troubled when the court acceded to the request of the defence to order another test on the substance.

When a court witness, a GSB official who had conducted the second test, was about to testify in court, the state prosecutor again prayed that the evidence be taken in chambers.

“This was a strong proposition in a criminal trial of this nature that is alien to any known procedure,” the court said, and added that the prosecutor, at a point, even retorted that the substance could have been changed in court, since the substance was taken in the presence of the registrar and the investigator who tendered it and saw that it had not been tampered with before it was taken to the GSB.

“That desperation to blame everybody for the substance not being cocaine except prosecution is mind boggling.

After all, if prosecution genuinely believed that the substance tendered was cocaine, what was the cause for such inexplicable apprehension, as the nature of the drug can never change,” it held.

 

Source: Daily Graphic

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