Accused Flees Military Custody

One of the three soldiers who allegedly murdered the former Northern Regional Chairman of the Convention People’s Party, Alhaji Issa Mobila, almost five years ago have escaped from military custody, an Accra Fast Track High Court heard yesterday. Sixth Infantry Battalion, known as Kamina Barracks in Tamale, was said to have escaped from the military guard room at One B.N at Michelle Camp, near Tema. This came to light when the two other accused persons, Corporal Yaw Appiah and Private Eric Modzaka, made their first appearance in court. Their charges were not read to them. The three soldiers were first put before the Tamale High Court, presided over by Justice George Suureebari, in July 2005 but the Attorney-General subsequently ordered the transfer of the case to Accra. Both the presiding judge, Justice Senyo Dzamefeh and Director of Public Prosecutions, Gertrude Aikins, expressed surprise at the information about the escape of Private Goka. Mrs. Aikins, therefore, urged the court to issue a bench warrant for his arrest. Two of the four Military Police escorts of the accused person who broke the news to the court, could however, not tell the circumstances under which Private Goka escaped they informed the court that their Guard Commander told them of the escape and that efforts were being made to arrest him, adding, “we are still tracking him”. However, hearing of the case against Cpl. Appiah and Private Modzaka, who have been remanded in military custody by the Fast Track High Court, is set to start on November 26 by which time the prosecution hopes private Goka would have been arrested. The case would be heard by a 16-man jury, and the prosecution has expressed its intention to call for the confinement in the course of trial in view of the “Sensitivity of this case”. Mrs. Aikins told the court that she hopes to file a motion to that effect today. Counsel for the accused persons, Thaddeus Sori, told the court that he would respond appropriately when the motion was filed. He expressed surprise at the circumstance under which the accused were brought to court noting that he only heard yesterday morning that the case was coming on before Justice Dzamefeh. “Then I think they are ahead of the court,” Justice Dzamefeh stated, but said that the case was put before him since last Friday. Alhaji Mobila was allegedly tortured to death at the Lamina Barracks on December 9, 2004 after he had been transferred from the Tamale Police to the Military. According to the prosecution, the three were on duty at the Kamina Barracks at the time Alhaji Mobila was put in custody. It said on December 9, 2004, shortly after Alhaji Mobila was taken into custody at the Military Barracks, he told the guards on duty that he (Mobila) was thirsty following which he was given water. “He took a sip but three hours later Alhaji Mobila was dead,” according to the prosecution.