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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

50-year Jail term for 'Kumasi Ataa Ayi'

Eric Alfred Zieme, described by the police as Kumasi’s most notorious armed robber, was yesterday sentenced to 50 years’ imprisonment with hard labour by the High Court in Kumasi.

“You are the devil incarnate,” Justice Kwame Ansu-Gyeabour, the presiding judge, told Zieme before handing him the sentence.

Zieme, 26, also known as Kumasi Ataa Ayi, was found guilty of raiding the B5 Plus Company at Buoho, a Kumasi suburb, at gunpoint on October 11, 2007 and robbing Gocrest Limited of GH¢40,504 which it had collected from the B5 Plus to be deposited at the bank.

The convict, who has nine other armed robbery and murder cases yet to be tried, had no lawyer and so he represented himself in court throughout the trial.

He was always in clutches when he appeared in court because of gunshot wounds he sustained when the police fired at his legs when he attempted to escape arrest.

The court held that the convict stood out as a person who was prepared to reap where he had not sown and build his life through foul means.

The judge said the court took into consideration the prevalence of armed robbery in the country, the evidence adduced against the convict by the prosecution, the character and antecedents of the convict, among other things, before imposing the sentence.

He said although the convict told the court that he was in Wa to attend an uncle’s funeral on the day the incident happened, he was, however, unable to prove his claim when offered the opportunity to do so.

Besides, Justice Ansu-Gyeabour said the convict’s mother, Bridget Zumbele, who was in court and had promised to furnish the court with witnesses for the convict, failed to do so and even declined to testify herself as the sister of the convict’s uncle whose funeral he claimed to have attended at Wa.

He stated that the convict admitted the offence in his caution statement to the police but denied on oath that he had given that statement to the police and also failed to prove an alibi.

He said it was abundantly clear that the evidence on oath had been a deliberate ploy and an after- thought.

The judge said the convict was unable to prove how he earned the money used to acquire his property, including the restaurant building project he had embarked on at the race course area in Kumasi.

Justice Ansu-Gyeabour also held that three witnesses, namely, Benedict Kofi Adombre, a driver whom the convict shot in the thigh, Alice Akpo and Victoria Asare, both cashiers of Gocrest Limited, from whom the convict stole the money, all came out to identify the convict during an identification parade.

The court ordered that the two cars seized from the convict on his arrest — an unregistered Toyota Corolla saloon car and an old Tico taxi — be handed over to the Ghana Police Service to assist the service in its patrol duties.

It further ordered that the remaining items seized from the convict, including a Honda motorbike, five travelling bags containing clothing, a Samsung DVD player, a Sony TV set, home theatre with speakers, two deep freezers, two satellite dishes, 35 bags of cement, 17 pieces of plywood, five packets of floor tiles and two ceiling fans, be auctioned and the proceeds paid to offset the amount stolen from B5 Plus, with the remaining paid to government chest.

The court also ordered that the restaurant project started by the convict, should be handed over to the Kumasi Metropolitan Assembly (KMA) for it to remodel and construct for public use.

The prosecution was led by Mr Emmanuel Otoo-Boison, a State Attorney.

Zieme has a month to appeal against the sentence.

The facts of the case were that on October 11, 2007, Benedict Kofi Adombre, a driver, Alice Akpo and Victoria Asare, both cashiers of Gocrest Limited at Adum, went round to collect money from the company’s customers.

After the three had collected money from the B5 Plus Company around 1.30 p.m., the convict, with an AK 47 assault rifle, attacked them in front of the company’s premises and shot the right thigh of the driver and robbed them of cash totalling GH¢40,504.

A report was made to the police and a medical form was issued to the driver to attend hospital.

On November 2, 2007, the police, upon a tip-off, arrested the convict from his hideout at the race course and the witnesses involved identified him as the one who had committed the offence.

The police later retrieved three guns, comprising two AK 47 assault rifles and a pump action gun, which he had hidden at various areas in the bush on the Barekese road, the Buoho area and at Brofoyedru.

The police also seized various items from him and charged him with the offence.

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