Weeping and wailing took centre stage at the Accra Circuit Court yesterday when Sulley Ali-Gabass, the medical doctor charged with defiling a 16-year-old boy, was found guilty and sentenced to 25 years’ imprisonment.

Immediately the Presiding Judge, Ms Rita Agyeman Budu, pronounced judgement and rose to her chambers, the convict’s wife broke down, saying in Hausa, “What will I tell the children? What will I tell them?”

Some family members of Ali-Gabass, who were themselves wailing, struggled to control the woman, who kept mentioning the names of her children.

Ali-Gabass displayed no emotions and attempted to console his wailing wife, saying, “It is okay; it will be okay,” before he was whisked away to begin his life behind bars after being found guilty on the first count of defiling the boy at a time he was below 16 years.

Sporting neatly cropped hair, blue jeans and a white long–sleeved shirt which was neatly tucked in, Gabass stood in the dock with his hands behind his back.

Occasionally, he wiped beads of sweat from his face, cast glances in the direction of his relatives and then bowed down his head.

The court discharged and acquitted him on the second count of unnatural carnal knowledge on the ground that for that charge to suffice, the victim must be more than 16 years.

Short-lived joy

Earlier, on hearing that he had been freed on the charge of unnatural carnal knowledge, the accused jumped in the dock with his hands pointing to the sky, probably thinking that he would walk out of the courtroom a free man.

But he lost balance and fell, later to be helped by a group of policemen to sit on a chair.

His joy, however, did not last long, as the biggest blow came immediately when the judge, who used more than an hour and half to walk through the history of the case and the position of the law, pronounced him guilty of defilement.

Deterrent sentence

Passing sentence, Ms Budu said the sentence was meant to serve as a deterrent.

“It will serve as a deterrent to people who subject minors, whether male or female, to such sexual acts amounting to violence. This act of the accused is very reprehensible and I condemn it in no uncertain terms.

“There is no doubt in my mind that the accused person had anal sex with the victim who, at the time of the act, was under 16 years and I find the accuse guilty on the charge of defilement, contrary to Section 101(2) of Act 29, 1960 and convict him accordingly.

“He is hereby sentenced to 25 years’ imprisonment, which is the maximum sentence for defilement in Ghana,” she said.

Section 101(2) of the act states: “Whoever naturally or unnaturally carnally knows any child under sixteen years of age, whether with or without his or her consent, commits an offence and shall be liable on summary conviction to imprisonment for a term of not less than seven years and not more than twenty-five years.”

The judge said a lot of things pointed to the guilt of the accused person, observing that it was ironical that the accused person, who claimed he was a mentor of the victim, never met the parents of the boy at Kasoa, an area which was close to their meeting point, but took the victim to meet his (Ali-Gabass’s) mother at Alajo in Accra.

That aside, a mobile phone he bought for the victim, the numerous meetings under cover of darkness with the boy at Kasoa in a tainted-glass vehicle, with the victim giving detailed description of their sexual escapades, as well as various sums of money he gave out for medical care for the victim, all pointed to the fact that the accused, indeed, had anal sex with the boy, the judge contended.

Courts must be vanguards of a rotten society

Making reference to a judicial comment by Mr Justice Jones Dotse, a Supreme Court judge, Ms Budu said: “There is no doubt that as a nation, apart from narcotics, which is a menace, armed robbery, rape and defilement cases are on the increase. It, therefore, leaves no one in doubt that there is the need for a conserted effort to remove and destroy this dangerous canker of rape and defilement from our society.

“The moral decadence into which the country has sunk makes it imperative for all and sundry, especially the law enforcement agencies like the courts, to be at the vanguard of this crusade.”

Ms Budu said contrary to an attempt by the defence team to show that the school files and medical reports which were used by the prosecution to establish the age of the victim were not adequate, there was enough evidence to prove that the victim was below 16 years at the time the incident happened.

Plea for mitigation

Before the accused person was sentenced, his lawyer, Mr John Baiden, in a mitigation plea, asked the judge to temper justice with mercy because the accused person was a married man with two children.

Moreover, he said, the accused was a good medical doctor who had learnt from his act of indiscretion.

Mr Baiden said the rights of lesbians, gays, bisexuals and trans-genders (LGBT) were increasingly being protected by a United Nations resolution.

He said the recent United States Supreme Court ruling which endorsed same-sex marriages also affirmed the increasing right of the LGBT community.

While the convict was being walked out of the courtroom in handcuffs, one of his relatives attempted to cover his face with a veil from the horde of cameras that had massed up in front of the court, but Ali-Gabass shoved off the veil, shouting in Hausa: “Leave them …leave them. Am I not a human being?”

Facts of the case

According to the facts of the case, the victim is a student residing at Kasoa, while Ali-Gabass is a medical practitioner at the Effia Nkwanta Regional Hospital.
In September 2013, the victim encountered Ali-Gabass on Facebook and they became friends.

They exchanged ideas online and communicated by phone for a while until October 2013 when Ali-Gabass arranged and met the victim at the Kasoa New Market area where he forcibly had anal sex with the boy in his car.

The prosecution said about 7 p.m. on December 28, 2013, the two met again at the same venue where Ali-Gabass had anal sex with the victim, after which he offered him a Samsung Galaxy mobile phone and GH¢20.

After the second sexual act, it said the victim became ill and Ali-Gabass allegedly prescribed paracetamol tablets for him.

According to the prosecution, the act was repeated at the same venue in February 2014.

It said in March and April 2014, Dr Ali-Gabass lured the victim to his (Ali-Gabass’s) house at Alajo in Accra where he had another bout of anal sex with him.

Chronicle of events

October 22, 2014

The police arrested Dr Ali-Gabass on allegations of sodomising a 16-year-old senior high school student after a JOY FM report by Manaseh Awuni Azure.

The police had extended an invitation to him to report himself to assist in investigations.

October 23, 2014

Three health bodies, including a regulator, assured Ghanaians that they would not shield Dr Ali-Gabass from any legal process being pursued by mandated constitutional bodies in his sodomy case.

A statement jointly signed by the President of the Ghana Medical Association (GMA), Dr Kwabena Opoku-Adusei; the Director-General of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr Ebenezer Appiah-Denkyira, and the Registrar of the Medical and Dental Council (MDC), Dr Eli K. Atipui, and issued by the three bodies said the institutions would not only conduct thorough investigations into the allegation but also feed the public with the outcome of its investigations.

October 24, 2014

Dr Ali-Gabass made his first appearance before the Accra Circuit Court charged with defilement and unnatural canal knowledge.

The court remanded him in police custody pending further investigations into the matter.

November 26, 2014

The court heard the victim’s evidence in camera.

January 6, 2015

The victim appeared in court to testify in the case.

February 10, 2015

The court heard in camera the evidence of Manasseh Azure Awuni, the journalist who broke the story. He presented audio evidence in court in which the accused confirmed his amorous relationship with the victim.

February 17, 2015

The third prosecution witness, Sergeant Francis Odei-Asiedu, who was also the investigator in the case, gave evidence in the case in camera.

February 25

The case was adjourned because the accused person was ill and had to be sent to hospital.

Although the accused person was in court, he was granted permission by the court to seek medical attention.

May 7, 2015

The court dismissed the application of “no case” filed by counsel for Dr Ali-Gabass and ordered the accused to open his defence on May 13, but counsel failed to comply.

May 8, 2015

The court cautioned the prosecution and counsel for the accused person to desist from unnecessarily delaying the case.

May 26, 2015

The court dismissed a motion of stay of proceedings filed by the defence team and ordered the accused to open his defence.

June 1, 2015

The accused person opened his defence after an application for stay of proceedings failed to yield results.  He closed his defence on June 5.

June 25, 2015

The two parties were expected to file their addresses to bring the eight-month trial to an end.

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