The Takoradi Harbour Circuit Court has directed the defense team in the case of the alleged fake pregnancy and kidnapping to file all witness statements before 7 June 2022.
Josephine Panyin Mensah, the 28-year-old woman at the heart of the alleged kidnapping in Takoradi has been accused of faking her pregnancy and staging her kidnap sometime in September 2021.
She is facing two counts — deceiving a public officer contrary to section 251 (B) of the Criminal Offences Act and publication of false news with intent to cause fear and panic contrary to section 208 (1) of the Criminal Offences Act.
She was expected to open her defence today, 19 May 2022, after the court overruled her no-case application at the last sitting.
Counsel for the accused, Philip Fiifi Buckman, said processes are still in place to build a solid case and prove the innocence of the accused.
“Today, we were to start with our defence for the accused person to open her defence but unfortunately, we could not file our witness statement because we need to put our witnesses together. So we came to pray to the court for it to grant us leave.
“Fortunately, the court was gracious to us and has given us some little leave. I believe that, by the time we come back on June 7, we would have filed, and the case will progress,” he said after proceedings.
Ms Mensah left home for a dawn walk on Thursday, 16 September 2021, but went missing for days in an alleged kidnapping case that caught the whole country’s attention.
She was later found at Axim in the Western Region without any sign of a supposed nine-month baby bump, which raised suspicion of false claims.
According to the police, three separate tests revealed that the woman never carried a foetus in her womb.
The law enforcement agency claims that tests at the Takoradi Government Hospital and the Axim Government Hospital were negative.
A medical examination at the Effia Nkwanta Government Hospital also showed no sign of a foetus.
Before the police went public with the information gathered, Western Regional Minister Kwabena Otchere Darko Mensah had said preliminary investigation proved that Josephine was never pregnant.
“Information available to me from national security and doctors indicates that the’ missing but found woman’ was never pregnant, and there was no mark of assault too on her,” he said.
“The [National Investigations Bureau] sent me a report that she has been found and was receiving treatment at the Axim Government Hospital. However, their preliminary investigation and examination show that she was never pregnant, as has been reported. They suspect that this whole story was fabricated,” he explained.
However, the victim’s husband, Michael Simmons, refuted the regional minister’s claims, insisting that his wife was pregnant before her abduction.
“My wife was nine months pregnant, and so she moved in with her mum because her delivery date was due prior to the kidnapping incident. I am very worried about the rumours making rounds, and I want to halt the interview to process my thoughts,” he Accra-based Citi FM.
“We want to remove her from the Axim Hospital [because]we do not trust the doctor. The doctor who said Panyin was not pregnant…[that doctor]has not given birth,” an angry family member said.
According to the family of Ms Mensah, the preliminary medical report that the woman was never pregnant was absurd.
Three suspects, including the mother of the lady, were arrested.
They were questioned and released later.
Meanwhile, the police have raised concerns over the worrying trend of fake kidnap.
“More worrying is the fact that for a number of years, the Regional Command has recorded several false kidnapping cases where people conspire to create ‘self-kidnapping’ incidents to make money out of ransoms,” the police said.
The Command noted that “a team with support from the National Headquarters has been put together to quell this emerging crime in the Western Region.”
Additionally, the police have given assurance that they have revised their strategies to ensure enhanced protection of people in the area and the rest of the country.