14 Circuit Judges and Magistrates currently standing trial before the Judicial Council for allegedly taking bribes in their line of duty, are appealing to the public to be circumspect in criticizing them harshly until they hear their side of the story.
A video footage tendered in evidence by Tiger Eye Pi, an investigative firm headed by journalist, Anas Aremeyaw Anas, shows the Judges taking bribes from litigants whose cases come before them.
The video is yet to be aired to the public. But before then, the court of public opinion have labeled the Judges as being corrupt, and has called on the Judicial Council to sanction them appropriately.
A Counsel for one of the accused Judges, Charles Bentum, speaking in an interview with Fiifi Banson on Anopa Kasapa on Kasapa 102.3 FM Monday said his clients have not been treated fairly by the public.
“I will plead that if we hear that someone has done something wrong, we shouldn’t crucify that person. We should exercise restraint until the issue is thoroughly investigated and if there is the need to sanction, we do that. But now that the truth has not been established, there is no need to criticize them. Now their family members, friends and all those associated with them are embarrassed as if it is the gospel truth,” he noted.
He added “if we crucify them on radio, TV, and print and at the end of the day they are exonerated what are we going to say? I think that is not good. If one of them is your brother or sister, you will cry.”
Twenty-two Circuit Judges and Magistrates have been suspended by the Judicial Council following Anas Aremeyaw Anas’ exposé of massive corruption in the Judiciary.
The action by the Judicial Council follows a petition received by the Chief Justice, Lady Justice Theodora Georgina Wood, from Tiger Eye Pi dated August 31, 2015.
The petitioner had prayed the President of the land through the Chief Justice to initiate an impeachment process against 12 High Court Judges as well as 22 Circuit Judges and Magistrates for compromising their positions.
A statement signed and released in Accra on Wednesday by the Judiciary Secretary, Justice Alex B. Acheampong said the suspended 22 Circuit Judges and Magistrates are being investigated by a five-member Disciplinary Committee of the Judicial Council chaired by a Justice of the Supreme Court.
According to the statement, the 22 were on September 7, 2015, served with letters stating the allegation against them and were asked to submit their response by September 9, 2015.