“Kidnapped” Takoradi woman’s case adjourned to November 11
The Takoradi Circuit Court was compelled to adjourn the case of the 28-year-old woman at the heart of the alleged kidnapping case in Takoradi.
The case continues on November 11 following the absence of the substantive prosecutor and failure of prosecution in filing disclosures.
Briefing journalists after proceedings today (October 14), counsel for the accused Philip Fiifi Buckman said state prosecution is yet to furnish his client Josephine Panyin Mensah with all their disclosures.
“We came to court today for the prosecution to provide us with the documents which they intend to rely on for the trial. The law is that they have to disclose everything, including witnesses, witness statements and all their evidence.
“Unfortunately, there were some documents which the prosecution needed to add, and the substantive prosecutor couldn’t also attend court today. So we have to send all the documents back to him to look through and hopefully do Case Management Conference (CMC) on the next court date, provided they serve us early,” he explained.
The accused is currently on bail after she was charged with deceiving public officers 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 at the court today in the company of her husband, Michael Simmons and the mother, Agnes Essel.
Ms Mensah left home for a dawn walk on Thursday, September 16 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.
Negative pregnancy tests
According to the police, three separate tests revealed that the woman never carried a foetus in her womb in the last few weeks.
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 baby.
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. It is unclear what Auntie Aggie might have done, but her arrest came on the same day that the police confirmed her daughter is now a suspect in the alleged kidnapping.
However, Kwabena Okyere Darko-Mensah, an aide to the Western Regional Minister, said he had picked intelligence that Josephine was communicating with the mother via phone calls during the alleged period she was in captive.
Mr Darko-Mensah said his boss had also released GHS 3000 to police as ransom money on September 20 but could not confirm if payment was made to the alleged kidnappers.
Josephine’s husband was also questioned by police on Thursday and Friday morning. He is also being treated as a suspect.
Police have raised concerns over a worrying trend in the region in the last few years, where people conspire with others to kidnap them.
“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.