First Treason Trial Since 1966


In a landmark decision, six Ghanaians, including three soldiers, have been sentenced to death by hanging for their involvement in a coup plot that unfolded three years ago. This trial marked the first treason case in Ghana since 1966 when post-independence leader Kwame Nkrumah was overthrown.


Arrest and Trial Details


The individuals were apprehended in 2021 while testing weapons in the capital, Accra, allegedly with the aim of toppling the government. During the trial, the group, which included a gunsmith, pleaded not guilty, and defense lawyers have expressed their intention to appeal the ruling in the Supreme Court. Three other individuals, including a senior police officer and two military officers, were acquitted.


Security Measures and Charges


Security was heightened outside the High Court in Accra during the sentencing, where the court found the six guilty of high treason and conspiracy to commit high treason. The men were reportedly in possession of locally manufactured guns, improvised explosive devices, and AK-47 rifles. State prosecutors argued that the group planned to organize protests, ostensibly to overthrow President Nana Akufo-Addo's government ahead of the 2020 general elections.


Legal Perspectives and Appeal


Defense lawyers emphasized their intention to appeal, citing the compelling evidence presented during the trial, including intercepted communications and testimonies. The court, in its verdict, underscored the seriousness of attempting to overthrow a government, praising the decision as "significant." Attorney General Godfred Yeboah Dame, who led the prosecution, highlighted the constitutional implications, stating that treason is punishable by death under Ghanaian law.


Historical Context and Death Penalty


The execution sentence raises questions as Ghana had abolished the death penalty for ordinary crimes last year, replacing it with a life sentence. The country had not carried out an execution since 1992 when it transitioned back to democratic rule. The verdict, while consistent with the constitution's stance on treason, reflects an interesting contrast against the recent legislative shift regarding capital punishment in the nation.