In Ghana, government prosecutors have announced they are reducing 21 of 30 graft charges against the wife of former President Jerry Rawlings. Konadu-Agyeman Rawlings and five of her co-accused are alleged to have willfully caused financial loss to the state after a government-owned cannery was divested during her husband?s rule. Supporters of former President Rawlings are describing the charges against the former first lady as political.
Osei Kwame-Prempeh is Ghana?s deputy attorney general. From the capital, Accra he told VOA that the charges against the former first lady are not politically motivated.
?The former first lady has been in court and has been facing thirty charges over the past one or two years. But let me say that the case is being handled by our prosecution department, headed by the director of public prosecution they do their work professionally as what is right. So they?ve looked at the case so far and they have decided that the interest of the state would best be served by reducing the charges from thirty counts to nine counts,? Kwame-Prempeh pointed out.
He said the prosecutors are professional in discharging their duties.
?Let me add that even as at now, I do not know which of the charges are being dropped, as deputy attorney general. I?m sure my boss does not know, the professionals who are doing their work know what they are about and we have all kept quiet to see how the case goes. So it is the professionals who are doing their work, and I have nothing to say about it,? he said.
Kwame-Prempeh said he was disappointed political meanings are being read into the charges against the former first lady.
?It?s unfortunate. You see there are people who read politics into everything. If it were political then we would rather add to the charges, not to reduce the charges. But professional lawyers, professional prosecutors, they are doing their work and they have seen the case and say that the interest of their case would be better served by reducing the charges. Let me state empathically that the government or for that matter the ministers in the ministry do not have any hand in that whatsoever,? he noted.
He chided those he said are reading political meanings into the charges against the former first lady.
?Anybody who read political implications into this must be undermining the meaning of justice, must be undermining the integrity of the people who are paid by the state to do their work professionally, and therefore it would be wrong for anybody to do that. We have demonstrated enough that we believe in freedom of justice, we believe in the rule of law and we allow that law to take its proper course without any interference,? he said.
Kwame-Prempeh said the prosecutor?s decision to reduce the charges against the former first lady is not strange.
?I have been a practicing lawyer at the bar, and I know how it goes. Prosecutors go into court withdrawing charge sheets, amending charge sheets and others. It?s a normal thing in criminal trial. Ask any lawyer who knows about criminal law, it happens. It does not give any political advantage to anybody; it does not mean that somebody was trying to victimize anybody? if they decide to reduce the charges it means they are just being fair. There are no political undertones in this matter,? he said.