Cocoa Smuggling Officials Jailed 16 Years

There were tears at the premises of the Fast Track High Court in Accra after eight persons implicated in a cocoa smuggling scandal were sentenced to a total jail term of 16 years. The court presided by Mr Justice Bright Mensah had found the eight persons, including a Customs Excise Preventive Service Collection Assistant, guilty for abetment of crime. Each person is expected to serve two years imprisonment. Meanwhile, three persons including a police officer were acquitted and discharged by the court. The court indicated that although it had an option to convict the accused persons to a fine, it handed down a custodial sentence because cocoa smuggling had become rampant. In February 2013, the court ordered 11 persons to open their defence after it held that they had a case to answer. Out of the 14 persons before the court, the trial judge, however, upheld a submission of no case for the three persons. The 14 security officers were allegedly captured in a secret video recording by Anas Aremeyaw Anas, a journalist, aiding a group of people to smuggle cocoa beans from Ghana to La Cote d'Ivoire in 2010. According to the facts, Anas of the New Crusading Guide, received information that some security officials at the Western frontier of the Ghana-Cote d'Ivoire border were taking money to assist people smuggle dried cocoa beans from Ghana to Cote d'Ivoire. Based on the said information, the journalist conducted an initial investigation and captured his findings on video.