Desist from coercing suspects to plead guilty- Lawyer tells Police

By Marie Aziz Tunde

A Lawyer with the Western Regional Office of the Legal Aid Commission, Ebo Donkor is appealing to the top hierarchy of the Ghana Police Service specifically the Legal Department to issue out a warning to personnel who coerce, coach and give false hope and promises to suspects to plead guilty in court without a lawyer to desist from the act.

Mr. Donkor said per the country’s Constitution, every suspect or individual restrained by the law has a right to a lawyer or legal representation and that should be the case. He pleaded with the public to seek legal advice saying “ if you’re involved in any legal tussle, especially criminal matters, make sure that you have a lawyer because sometimes what you might think is the on error of the law might not be the case” The law, he said “ is quite technical, has fact, has evidence so if you have the benefit of advise of a professional, it is best.”

Lawyer Donkor was speaking on the heels of another Takoradi lady, Joana Krah, who staged her kidnap in order to get money from her godfather, and has since been slapped with a six-year jail term.

According to lawyer Donkor,“my information is that, she was not represented by a lawyer and probably if she had a representation or a lawyer, she would have had a better Counsel to maybe put a plea that have been different from what we are seeing now”, adding however that the sentence of six years imprisonment based on two counts, deceit of public officer and the publication of false news is quite within range.
He explained that based on an amendment to the law “ deceit of Public Officer and publication of false news, the sentence is quite within range.”

According to lawyer Donkor, Some State institutions force suspects to act without a lawyer’s advice. In his words, there are officials who force or advice suspects to plead guilty to all charges and give them false hope of getting minimal sentences or will be set free.

He said “ a lot of people are in prison today based on such hopes of being freed on pleading guilty” and advised the public to seek legal advice instead of succumbing to coaching, to go to court and plead guilty.

Lawyer Donkor called on the media and related stakeholders to spearhead education on the right of the people with regard to legal matters.

He also advised individuals to contact the Legal Aid Commission since “Our doors
are open to anyone regardless of the weight of their offense but that is not to say we are going to condone criminality in society, simply one must have his day with the law, he pointed out.

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