Suspended General Secretary of the People’s National Convention (PNC), Atik Mohammed has described as “extremely disappointing”, a court judgment against 13 members of a pro-NPP vigilante group, Delta Force.
He said the fine of ¢1,800 each was not punitive enough.
The 13 members of Delta Force were fined ¢1,800 each for rioting on March 25 by the Asokwa Circuit court presided over by Korkor Achiaw Owusu ordered on Thursday.
In default, they were to spend 12 months in jail.
The 13 are part of a large group of party footsoldiers that besieged the office of the Ashanti Regional Security Coordinator, George Agyei and allegedly assaulted him.
The initial charges of conspiracy to assault a public officer and causing unlawful damage were changed on October 10 to conspiracy to commit a crime by rioting to which they pleaded guilty.
Atik Mohammed believes for the state to have amended the charge on the basis of lack of evidence in the “face of one” is disappointing.
“It is the responsibility of the state to ensure that it works really hard to get the requisite evidence to back whatever charge it is presenting before the court,” he told Joy News’ Evans Mensah on Newsnight, Thursday.
He added that the state lacked the political will to get the evidence because there was a video, which showed the accused assaulting someone.
Mr Mohammed described the court suit as a “politically manipulated process which ensured this outcome.”
He said the judge cannot be blamed because s/he only dealt with the charge that was brought before her to make a judgement.
The suspended PNC General Secretary said he is depressed that the verdict will embolden future foot soldiers to do worse things.
The PNC politician said judgment on political cases such as this ought to serve as a deterrent to send the clear message across.
Atik Mohammed says if the activities of vigilante groups are not checked, it will erode the gains made in Ghana’s democracy.
However, lawyer for the 13 Delta Force members, Kamkam Boadu said it is not enough to lay a charge in court because every charge must be backed by evidence.
He said his clients never pleaded guilty to assault but rioting arguing “perhaps it was dropped because there was no evidence to support it.”
According to him, the said video evidence of assault does not have his clients in it.
Mr Boadu confirmed to Joy News that his clients have paid their fines.