Plea bargaining to aid Ghana’s anti-corruption fight
Martin Kpebu
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A private legal practitioner has said it is time the country adopted plea bargaining to save resources going through a full trial.

Martin Kpebu said plea bargaining also means conviction even if the accused person only refunds the monies he or she may have taken from state coffers.

He added convictions come with its own embarrassment, including naming and shaming as well as the possibility of stripping the accused person from holding a public office.

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According to him, it is always a useful provision because it allows the prosecutor to allow the accused person to plead to a lower offence or return what they have taken.

Plea bargaining is a good tool used in other countries for criminals who may have committed grave crimes or even a chain of offences.

This is done in the name of saving judicial and prosecutorial time.

During his vetting Tuesday by Parliament’s Appointments Committee, the country’s foremost Special Prosecutor nominee, Martin Amidu, indicated that his office is likely to use plea bargaining.

He said he may allow corrupt public officials to repay the money they stole from state coffers to avoid jail term.

The former Attorney General said there were offences listed for the Special Prosecutor to work on, general provisions for other offences were also made.

“Six of the general offences were misdemeanours, two are felonies and the other two are unclassified,” he stressed adding “the issue is not about filling Nsawam with people.”

He argued that since the state must not be made to feed people in prison, the plea bargaining option is a good incentive for those who want to make reparation for the courts.

“The office must take into consideration the grounds upon which reparation should be considered,” he said.

This comment has widely been criticized as many say it is a leeway for public officials to be corrupt knowing very well they can repay and get away with jail time.

But Martin Kpebu argued the country will be better if judicial time is used well within the limited resource constraints.

He added that the conditions in the country’s prisons are nothing to write home about and people should not be thrown into jail just for the sake of it.

Source: Ghana|