Ghana: President Mahama pardons radio host, panellists

Accra, Ghana (PANA) - President John Dramani Mahama has remitted the remaining prison sentences imposed on a radio host and two panellists on an Accra-based radio station, Montie FM, for contempt of court on compassionate grounds.

An official statement issued by the Minister of Communication, Dr Edward Omane Boamah, in Accra on Monday said President Mahama had, in consultation with the Council of State and in exercise of his constitutional powers under Article 72 of the Constitution, remitted the remaining prison sentence imposed on three persons.

They are Salifu Maase (alias Mugabe), Alistair Nelson and Ako Gunn, who were sentenced to 4 months imprisonment and a fine of 10,000 Ghana cedis each for contempt of court. (US$1=3.94 Ghana cedis)

The statement said the remission would be effective 26 August 2016.

The three were sentenced on 27 July 2016 and have served part of the prison sentences imposed on them. They have also paid the fines.

Pro-government supporters petitioned the president to exercise his powers to pardon the three people. President Mahama handed over the petition to the Council of State which recommended pardon.

"The decision of His Excellency the President to remit their sentences on compassionate grounds follows a petition submitted to him by the contemnors appealing to the President to exercise his prerogative of mercy even as they continue to express deep remorse and regret for the unacceptable statements they made against the Judiciary," the statement said.

"His Excellency, President Mahama takes this opportunity to remind all Ghanaians of the need to respect the institutions of State and exercise freedom of speech responsibly mindful of the need to preserve peace and national unity."

President Mahama, himself a journalist, reminded all concerned especially persons working in the media or appearing on its platforms to be "circumspect and guard against the use of intemperate language which has the potential of causing
unnecessary tension especially in this election year".

"The President is hopeful that all will draw lessons from the events leading to the conviction of the three persons and bear in mind the consequences of injudicious utterances," the statement said.

The three persons, a host and two panellists, were found guilty of scandalising the court, defying and lowering the authority of the court and bringing the name of the court into disrepute.

The court also sentenced the owners of the pro-government Montie FM as well as the owner of the frequency.

And as expected, the sentences generated a debate in the country with a section saying the sentences were rather harsh and speech should not be criminalised.

The court also ordered Network Broadcasting Company Limited, owners of the radio station, and ZeeZee Media Ghana Limited, owner of the frequency, to pay a fine of 30,000 Ghana cedis each or serve a prison term.

The court also ordered Network Broadcasting Company Ltd to submit to the court policies and measures they had developed to ensure that the operations of all their stations, namely Radio Gold, Montie FM and Gold TV, were conducted in such a manner as shall effectively ensure that the contemptuous, unlawful acts and impropriety never occur again.

It also ordered ZeeZee Media Ghana Ltd to produce to the court policies and measures put in place to ensure that the utilisation of the Frequency by Network Broadcasting Company Ltd. did not and could not give rise to unlawful and contemptuous acts.
-0- PANA MA 22Aug2016

22 august 2016 19:11:49

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