The Supreme Court of Ghana has ordered for the payment of GH¢45,000 as compensation to Mr Eric Asante, a teacher who was wrongfully jailed for 15 years on allegation of defiling and impregnating a 14-year-old student in Tamale in 2005
In a unanimous decision, the five-member panel of the court also ordered the government to pay all the salaries and allowances Mr Asante lost during his 13 years behind bars in line with Article 14 (7) of the 1992 Constitution of Ghana.
Reason for compensation
Mr Asante spent 13 years behind bars for a crime he never committed. But, on January 26, 2017, he was acquitted and discharged by the Supreme Court after it held that his conviction and sentence had no basis in law. The court came to that determination following a DNA test which proved that Mr Asante was not the father of the child born out of the said defilement.
After his acquittal, Asante, through his lawyers, filed a claim for compensation in excess of GH¢7.3 million. He wanted compensation for the lost salaries as a teacher, what he could have earned as a part-time teacher and the money he would have earned from other investment activities. The teacher also wanted compensation on the basis that he suffered psychological and emotional anguish, as well as mental disorder, throughout his 13-year incarceration..
The supreme court, however, awarded Mr Asante GH¢3,180 for each year he spent behind bars.
Since Mr Asante was incarcerated for 13 years from the day of his arrest to the time spent in prison, he was entitled to GHc41,340, which the court rounded it up to GH¢45,000.
Mr Asante was arrested on December 14, 2003 and charged with the defilement of a 14-year-old student, he was jailed 15 years in hard labour by the Tamale High Court for the offence of defilement on September 2005. The victim 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 court ordered a DNA test to be conducted to ascertain whether or not the teacher was the father of the child.
In a unanimous decision on January 26, 2017, the five-member panel held that the DNA test proved that Mr Asante was not the biological father of the baby and, therefore, he could not have been responsible for the pregnancy that brought forth the child. According to the court, apart from the pregnancy, the prosecution in the trial that led to the conviction failed to present any other evidence that the alleged victim had been defiled by Mr Asante.
It further held that the so-called victim of the defilement, by lying that the teacher had impregnated her, was dishonest and, therefore, her testimony was deliberately false.