2 Cops appear in court for attacking bullion van
| Updated Mar 07, 2017 at 10:00am
The trial of the two policemen involved in the robbery attack on a bullion van near Mame Krobo in the Kwahu Afram Plains South District in the Eastern Region for escaping from lawful custody has begun.
Mr Akwasi Kankam Boadu, the Donkorkrom Divisional Police Commander, in his evidence, told the court that the two accused persons escaped from police custody when he and the driver of the vehicle they were travelling on were purchasing fuel.
But the accused persons, who did not have legal counsel, told the court that a police escort deliberately allowed them to escape.
The two are General Lance Corporal Daniel Kissi Abrokwa and General Lance Corporal Solomon Elvis Mensah.
They were re-arrested on August 18, 2016, a day after they had escaped from police custody in Nkawkaw.
They pleaded not guilty to two counts of conspiracy and escape from lawful custody when they appeared before the Mpraeso Circuit Court.
A third accomplice, Hafisu Mohammed, aka Danjuma, a mechanic, was not sent to the court.
According to Mr Boadu, a Chief Superintendent of Police, the two were serving under his jurisdiction and that they were arrested on August 16, 2016 over an alleged robbery attack.
He said about 6.30 a.m. on August 17, 2016, the three suspects were handcuffed and were being transported in the Donkorkrom Divisional Command pick-up vehicle, with registration number GP 4237.
They were under the care of the armed guard, Corporal Christopher Babudu, and the vehicle was driven by General Corporal Asante Peprah he said.
He said a back-up escort team in another police vehicle, led by Superintendent Obeng Dompreh, the Tease District Commander, followed them en route to Koforidua from Tease.
He told the court that on reaching Nkawkaw, the back-up team went to the Nkawkaw Central Police Station where a policeman who was a victim in the robbery incident got down.
At that point, the driver of the vehicle complained of fuel shortage.
“So we proceeded to the Crown Filling Station in Nkawkaw about 12.30 p.m. to refill. While my driver and I were concentrated on the purchase of the fuel, the suspects were in the vehicle under the care of the armed guard, Babudu.
“Unknown to me, the armed guard had taken the accused persons out of the car based on a request from them to urinate at the filling station.
“All one could hear was: ‘They are running away!!! They are running away!!!’ I turned to see the suspects were really running into the bush near the filling station. I then ordered the armed guard to shoot at them because he was close to them but he failed to do that,” he told the court.
Mr Boadu said he then gave the two suspects a hot chase but they managed to run away, leaving Hafisu, their accomplice, at the urinal.
He said after they had managed to escape, he asked the driver to send Hafisu to the Nkawkaw Police Station for detention, while he organised a search party to comb the area for the bolted policemen.
He said the two, however, managed to escape.
How they escaped
Mr Boadu said Abrokwa fled in handcuffs, while Mensah was able to remove his hand from the handcuffs (which he shared with Hafisu) before escaping.
They were re-arrested the next day, August 18, 2016, at different locations and times.
Abrokwa was rearrested at Nkawkaw-Adoagyiri about 9.30 a.m., while Mensah was apprehended at Nkawkaw-Krofrom about 12.30 p.m.
But the accused persons, while cross-examining Mr Boadu, told the court that they did not escape from lawful custody.
According to them, their handcuffs were opened by General Corporal Baabudu, the armed guard, to enable them to escape.
Abrokwa argued that no one on earth could remove his hands from locked handcuffs unless the handcuffs were opened and that there was no way they could free their hands from the handcuffs if the escort had not opened them for them to escape.
“He (Babudu) opened the handcuffs and said the Divisional Commander had pity for us. He said the charges levelled against us were great and that he would do his best to get us out. He opened the handcuffs. He told us in the urinal (in Nzema dialect) that if he opened both it will clearly show he opened them and so he only opened one. He refused to shoot at us, even with orders from the commander.
“If a goat sees that it is going to be killed and it sees that the rope around its neck is cut off, it will surely run away,” he said.
But Baabudu denied the allegation and said Abrokwa rather pushed him to the ground and before he could regain his stamina the two had bolted into the bush.
“At the Crown filling station, the driver got down and went to the fuel attendant. I also got down with the suspects — all in handcuffs. I escorted them to the urinal. After urinating, I was escorting them back to the car but Abrokwa pushed me down. By the time I got up, Elvis had managed to remove the handcuffs and they took to their heels into the bush. I quickly raised an alarm.
“I attempted to gun them down but people were around so I didn't shoot. It is not true I opened the handcuffs,” he told the court.
Yaw Somuah, a pig farmer living at Nkawkaw Railways Quarters, testified that a day after the escape, he went to his piggery about 9 a.m. and saw Abrokwa coming from an allay close to the piggery.
He said he saw Abrokwa wearing a long-sleeved shirt and a pair of trousers with his left hand hanging.
He said he knew Abrokwa very well and so he waited for him to pass by him towards a crowd, after which he, together with a friend, apprehended him and sent him to the Nkawkaw Police Station.
“After we arrested him, I saw handcuffs on his left hand,” the witness told the court.
A third prosecution witness, Issifu Iddi, also resident in Nkawkaw, testified that on August 18, 2016, he was on his way to a friend at Krofrom when Mensah, who was hiding in a bush, hissed at him.
He said when he responded to his call, Mensah gave him GH₵50 to buy food and water for him, since he was hungry.
Iddi said being aware of the news the previous day about the robbery attack, he went to the Central Police Station to report what he had seen and further requested for an escort to verify whether or not Mensah was one of the culprits.
The police followed him to Mensah’s hideout, where Mensah was arrested.
But Mensah claimed that he had rather sent Iddi to call policemen to rescue him because he was afraid of being lynched if he came out of hiding.
The court, presided over by Madam Mariam Saleh Sinare, adjourned the case to September 8, 2016.