Not Even The President Can Control Judges – Justice Sophia Akufo
Presiding Judge Sophia Akuffo reading the sentences said the third and fourth contemnors Alister and Ako Gunn wilfully attacked the Chief Justice and lowered the authority of the court by insisting that they will not accept its judgment on a controversial matter of the voter’s register.
She said they also callously reminded the court of the gruesome murder of three High Court judges more than 30 years ago. She pointed out that there is an element of criminality in their uttterances which the Attorney-General should have noticed and acted upon.
She quoted constitutional provisions that establish the independence of the judiciary and noted that even the President cannot control judges.
The court is deserving of utmost respect if the coutnry’s democracy is to be safeguarded. Any conduct that seeks to interfere with the judiciary is an act against the community. She recites the judicial oath.
She refers to Lord Acton saying that the court has been very circumspect so as not to be seen as stifling media freedom and freedom of speech. “But we have been forced to act”, she said.
The court summoned the direcotrs because they created the conditions for the scandalous comments to be made but the court has not been impressed by the explanations of the Directors who say they are not directly involved in the running of station.
The court says the Directors were irresponsible and careless because as Board members they direct the broad vision of the station.
She noted that the host spurred the panelists on to ‘open fire’. The host and panelists were reckless and insenstive in their commentary. The panelists were by all means in the studio to attack the judges and could not be bothered that it was the eve of Matrtr’s Day.
Sophia said the court has taken note of their guilty pleas and plea for mitigation. However they realise that reckless attacks on the court and judges have become rampant even after four politicians were dealt with in 2013 during the Elections Petition after they made contemptuous comments.
Sophia says there is the need to hand out punishment deterring enough.
A Director Harry Zakkour and the company must pay 30,000 cedis by close of day Thursday.