Solomon Atadze, a Principal State Attorney has appealed to the police to assist prosecuting attorneys by making witnesses readily available to enable the courts to dispense justice expeditiously.

He said: “The Law Office has identified the procurement of witnesses to testify in most cases, particularly, the old ones, as the main problem inhibiting effective prosecution…”

Mr Atadze was delivering an address at the opening of the Criminal Assizes for the 2007 Legal Year in Tamale on Tuesday.

The Principal State Attorney expressed regret that of the 22 criminal cases, including murder, manslaughter, rape and robbery listed for prosecution last year, only eight were successfully put on trial.

He said out of the eight completed cases, three accused persons were convicted of murder, one of manslaughter, two of rape and one of attempted murder.

He said that one person, who was prosecuted on a rape charge was acquitted and discharged.

Mr Atadze said in consequence of the problem, the courts discharged some of the accused persons whose cases had been listed since 1990 or earlier, during last year’s criminal assizes at the request of the prosecution to avoid any embarrassment.

Mr Atadze said some of the cases listed for prosecution this year comprised cases which could not be prosecuted last year due to the lack of witnesses to testify.

He mentioned seven cases of murder, one of manslaughter and one of robbery as those listed for prosecution at this year’s criminal session adding that apart from these, there were eight others, which were ready for committal and would be added to the cause list during the session.

He entreated prosecuting attorneys to make every effort to ensure that cases listed on the Cause List and others yet to be added would be prosecuted before the end of the criminal session, this year.

The Principal State Attorney appealed to all stakeholders, including court officials, defence counsel, jurors and prisons officers to co-operate with each other so that this year’s criminal assizes would end successfully.

Justice Victor Cyril Doegah, Supervising High Court Judge in Tamale, said the police had no excuse for not producing witnesses to assist in the prosecution of cases.

“The police are fond of making excuses that the officer is on leave. The officer is on transfer. But we know that the police as an institution, does not go on transfer or leave”, he said.

Mr Doegah said the Judicial Service in its bid to dispense justice would make available legal aid to assist accused persons without the financial ability to engage in the services of a lawyer.

He urged the staff to discard negative work attitudes and work to raise the image of the Judicial Service.

Source: GNA