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Ghana Human Rights Commission Subpoenas Former President - 2004-02-11

A commission in Ghana investigating human rights violations under previous regimes has subpoenaed former President Jerry Rawlings to testify Thursday.

The National Reconciliation Commission, which was established to review reported abuses under previous military rulers, is conducting hearings into alleged violations during the 1980s when Mr. Rawlings was in power.

The hearings will focus on the abduction and killing of three high court judges and a retired army officer in June 1982.

A special board, headed by Mr. Rawlings, investigated these murders in 1983. Five people were convicted; four of whom were executed and one escaped into exile.

The executive secretary of the commission, Ken Attafuah, says the panel believes taped confession of one of the convicts could shed more light on the case and lead to more convictions.

He said Mr. Rawlings has been subpoenaed not as a suspect, but as a witness in the hope he can provide information about the whereabouts of the tape. "We are only going to ask the former president questions about these things. We can only ask him with an open mind: is there such a tape and if so where is it? We would be interested in knowing the contents. And we can trust that when he comes, he will be a man of honor and tell us the truth as he knows it," he said.

The head of security under Mr. Rawlings, Captain Kojo Tsikata, appeared before the panel Tuesday and denied all involvement in the 1982 murders.

The assistant to Mr. Rawlings has said the former president will appear before the commission on Thursday.