Teacher wrongfully imprisoned for 15 years awarded GHc45,000 compensation by Supreme Court

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The Supreme Court today ordered the State to pay Ghc45,000 compensation to Mr Eric Asante, a teacher who was wrongfully jailed for 15 years on allegation of defiling and impregnating his pupil. Aside the Ghc45,000, the court also that his salary for the period he was in prison should be paid to him in full.

Mr Asante was asking for GHȻ7.3m for loss of income, psychological trauma, mental disorder among other things. But in a unanimous decision, the court held that Mr Asante failed to prove that he suffered any mental or emotional disorder while incarcerated. The panel was presided over by Mr Justice Anin Yeboah. Other members were Justice Paul Baffoe-Bonnie, Justice Sule Gbadegbe, Justice Gabriel Pwamang and Justice Yaw Appau.

Counsel for the Applicant

Counsel for Mr Asante, Mr Victor Kwesi Opeku, after the court sitting expressed his disappointment at the amount awarded to his client. He added that the decision of the Supreme Court meant that the state had been let off the hook for an injustice on his client.

“I am very disappointed that the court threw out all the claims we made and awarded a paltry sum of Ghc45,000. For a state to completely destroy a young person’s life for 13 years and get away with Ghc45,000 is not deterrent enough”.

Background

On September 5, 2005, Mr Asante was jailed 15 years in hard labour by the Tamale High Court for allegedly defiling and impregnating a 13-year-old girl who was his student. The student claimed that Mr Asante was her lover and that he had, on many occasions, had sexual relations with her.

Throughout the trial, and even in prison, Mr Asante consistently denied the charges levelled against him, insisting that he never had any amorous relationship with the girl. He, therefore, initiated an appeal at the Court of Appeal to prove his innocence, but, in October 2006, the Court of Appeal dismissed his appeal and upheld his conviction. Not satisfied, Mr Asante appealed to the Supreme Court in 2012. The apex court ordered a DNA test to be conducted to ascertain whether or not the teacher was the father of the child.

Subsequently, the five member Supreme Court panel presided over by Justice Anin Yeboah on the 26th of January 2017 acquitted and discharged 40 year old former teacher, Eric Asante, who has already served a 15 year jail term for carnally knowing a fourteen year old girl who was his pupil while he taught in Tamale.

The Supreme Court said the evidence adduced by State prosecutors some 15 years ago against the accused person could not have supported his conviction. The court directed that the now acquitted and discharged man should apply in a separate application for compensation. His lawyer then, Francis Sosu indicated the he will apply for 10 million cedis compensation for his client.

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