Justice denied … The case of Charles Antwi v. The Republic of Ghana
Justice denied is an abomination. Many have been incarcerated for crimes they did not commit. Others’ mental states have been overlooked and in a system where the fates of accused persons fall into the hands of a few or an individual judge, such mistakes are likely to happen. A recent such case involves Charles Antwi a certifiable lunatic who was arrested, tried and sentenced to a ten-year prison term on July 28.
Mr. Antwi, a lunatic was arrested at a church where the president and the chief justice worship with a loaded weapon on his person on Sunday, July 26. Within 36 hours of his arrest he was handed a 10-year jail sentence for a crime that, according to experts should only fetch five years. And the judge is reported to have amended the accused’s plea from guilty to not guilty.
Not being lawyers we cannot argue the issue from any legal standpoint but we possess the right to make observations known as others. Probably the judge was not informed of the mental state of the accused and proceeded to pronounce his verdict as a warning to anyone planning such a move in the future. But some things are clear here. Mr. Antwi did not attempt to kill anyone at the premise. The gun was found on his person by a churchgoer. The president, of course, was not present in church on that Sunday. We ask if possessing a gun, licensed or not, in itself constitutes an attempt to kill. We know it is a crime to carry an unlicensed weapon, but an attempt to kill when no such attempt was made stretches the imagination of the law quite a bit.
We are also reliably informed that Mr. Antwi is a certifiable lunatic who has been receiving treatment at both hospitals and local herbalists. We therefore think that his demeanor and his answers to the judge’s questions should have given him out for a mentally deranged person. It is strange Judge Obiri could not suspect any such condition. A lawyer domiciled in the United Kingdom has taken up the case and has decided to appeal the verdict at the Circuit Court. He went further to report the issue to the Amnesty International. It is a commendable effort and we hope Mr. Antwi will receive justice.
We believe there are several Charles Antwis behind bars in Ghana who need to be rescued from such dire situations. The case also calls into question the state of mental health in Ghana. Family members with mental health issues are often hidden from public view and are often denied treatment. In Antwi’s case the family was quick to respond to the verdict. We hope families with similar experience as the Antwi family would take a cue and act accordingly.
Everybody is equal before the law. And that includes the crazies too. Justice, they say, is blind.