By: Beatrice Oppon
Four persons who kidnapped two Canadian women at Kumasi in the Ashanti region in June 2019 have each been sentenced to ten years in prison in hard labor.
The four convicts are Computer Engineer Sampson Aghalor who is also the mastermind, Elvis Ojiyorwe, Jeff Omarsa all Nigerians, and a Ghanaian Yussif Yakubu.
They were charged with conspiracy and kidnapping contrary to the Criminal and Other Offences Act.
The victims and their families witnessed the delivery of the judgment virtually. The prosecution called eleven witnesses including the victims and their parents.
Judge Justice Lydia Osei Marfo held that the prosecution was able to prove its case against the convicts on the charges of conspiracy and kidnapping. She said the electronic evidence clearly exposed the convicts conspiring to commit the offense of kidnapping.
Justice Osei Marfo said she could clearly hear the voices of the convicts plotting the execution of the crime in the audios that were played in Court as part of the evidence of the prosecution.
The Court was convinced that the prosecution was able to establish a Prima facie case established against the convicts.
An operation led by National Security on June 11, 2019, led to the rescue of the two Canadian women who were abducted from the gates of their hostel in Kumasi two weeks earlier and the subsequent arrests of eight persons including the four convicts.
Further investigations led to the release of four of the suspects. The kidnapping of the two foreign volunteers sparked public outrage.
The kidnappers demanded a ransom of 800 thousand dollars from the parents of the victims and threatened to kill them if the money was not sent to them.
They were said to have also touched the ladies inappropriately and threatened to have sex with them.
In a bid to get the parents to pay the ransom, the convicts smeared the victims with the blood of a fowl, took pictures of them, and forwarded them to their parents.
One of the victims in her evidence said the accused persons threatened to kill them and sell their body parts and still make money if their parents did not cooperate. She also said the kidnappers seized their mobile phones and other electronic gadgets and also forced them to disclose their passwords.
The victim stated further that the convicts managed to withdraw thousand of dollars from her account using her MasterCard.
Justice Osei Marfo held that the defense raised by the convicts was fanciful and not credible.
She said kidnapping is a serious offense and looking at the manner in which it was carried out, the kidnappers must be dealt with harshly.
She said the three Nigerians came into the country purposely to commit the crime and the state must not allow such nation wreckers to mar its relationship with international partners.
The Judge personally and on behalf of the country apologized to the victims and their families for the trauma they went through as a result of the kidnapping. The court further ordered that mobile phones retrieved from the convicts on their arrest should be burnt.
She called for a review of the law on kidnapping as it has already been done in other jurisdictions.
Director of Public Prosecutions Yvonne Atakora Obuobisa said a committee has been constituted to that effect.
One of the convicts knelt down to also apologise to the victims.