Time with Lawyer Sampson Anyenini
Akuapim Poloo, born Rosemond Brown was handed a 90 -day sentence by an Accra Circuit Court for posting nude pictures of herself and her son.
Since the judgement was dispensed last Friday 16, April, 2021, a section of the Ghanaian public, notably celebrities as they are called have questioned the judgement and have reacted in the form of protest to get her pardoned. #freeakuapimpoloo
One of our journalist made time with a famous lawyer in conversation about some of the comments from the public in the issues and this is what ensued.
Public: Lawyer, it looks like the case was concluded too swiftly because it was against a poor citizen. The law is against the poor.
Lawyer: May be sometimes, if you can’t afford a lawyer. But, did she have a lawyer? Yes, she did. She was arrested in July, appeared in court and pleaded not guilty and granted bail in November, 2020.
Why Did She Change Her Initial Not Guilty Plea?
Public: Why did she changed her not guilty plea to a guilty plea on Thursday?
Lawyer: Apparently, she changed her plea obviously upon advise after she and her lawyer having been as required by law served with the evidence the prosecution was going to use for the trial. The evidence must have included her public admission and her apology video. There was no way to defend that because it could have been worse if she had insisted on not being guilty and gone through the trial process, wasting everybody and the court’s time when she had the video admitting to the wrong.
Public: But it was too swift compared to other cases involving prominent people.
Lawyer: There was only one issue at hand and the accused has been pleaded guilty, what do u want the judge or court to do after she pleaded guilty? By the way which cases are you referring to and who has pleaded guilty and their case hasn’t ended because they are powerful, connected or rich as you claim? Except for capital offense, once an accused person pleads guilty, a judge is constitutionally and legally bound to convict and pass sentence that will be swift. The court is the creation of the law and the judge works for the law.
Public: Why was she remanded in custody after conviction when she was already on bail?
Lawyer: You really want the rules to bend because of her? A suspect has been brought to court, she pleads guilty and is convicted to wait for sentencing and you want the convict to be allowed to go home and not kept in the custody of the state? What will you say if she doesn’t show up again?
The Single Mother Sympathizers Argument
Public: How can you keep a single mother away from her child?
Lawyer: Granted, infact she is responsible for the child 24/7. You think this will be the first time she will ever be away from her child for sometime? Do we have single mother’s in prison? Or we let them go when they plead guilty if an offense? Why is her case different? The law mandates a judge to order for a pregnancy test for a convicted woman in the interest of the mother and the unborn child before passing sentence. The law mandates that, if the test proves positive, the judge shall hand a non custodial sentence or pass a sentence but suspend its execution until an appropriate time, which means a pregnant convict does not go to jail. But if she commits another offense during the period, then she will be made to serve both the suspended sentence and the first sentence together. The judge acting within the law have the power to hand her the maximum of 3years for the first offense only. Then a maximum of Ghc 60,000 or plus 2 years each for the second and third offense. That’s 7 years altogether.
But she handed her 90 days for each offense. Even that, she ordered the sentence to run concurrently, meaning, she serves only 90 days and not a total of 270 days. The court has the power taken all circumstances under consideration to opt for a non custodian sentence of a fined, a bond to be of good behavior or caution. But once again, it was the court that was that was ceased with the facts and it must have been aware of the calls decrying her conducts and calling for action when she first published these pictures. We shouted for a call to deal with her and now that she has been dealt with, even leniently, people begin to say all sorts of things.
What Is Next For Her?
Public: What is next after now?
Lawyer: There are 2 options left. Appeal or either the president uses his prerogative power of mercy to grant a pardon or reduce her sentence.
Public: Why not a wiser sentence like community service or public advocacy?
Lawyer: There is no such thing as a sentence to community service in Ghana, 90 days or more is the accepted punishment for this in many countries. But our new law Cybersecurity Act 2020 states that a mere threat to circulate indecent image for whatever reason including blackmail or extorting attracts 10 years minimum or 25 years maximum in jail. A judge will have no discretion to give you less when you are caught by this law.