Six Ghanaians, including three soldiers, have been sentenced to death by hanging for their involvement in a coup plot three years ago.This was the first treason trial in Ghana since 1966, when post-independence leader Kwame Nkrumah was overthrown.
The six were arrested in 2021 while testing weapons in the capital, Accra, to allegedly topple the government. The group, including a gunsmith, pleaded not guilty during a trial that captured the attention of the nation. Defence lawyers said they would appeal against the ruling in the Supreme Court. Three other people, including a senior police officer and two military officers, were acquitted.
There was a heavy security deployment outside the High Court in Accra during the sentencing on Wednesday. The court found the six guilty of high treason and conspiracy to commit high treason. The men were arrested with locally manufactured guns, improvised explosive devices and AK-47 rifles, according to court documents.
State prosecutors said the group had planned to organise protests, ostensibly to topple President Nana Akufo-Addo’s government ahead of the 2020 general elections.The court said it found the evidence against the men, including intercepted communications and testimonies, compelling. Attorney General Godfred Yeboah Dame, who led the prosecution, praised the court verdict as “significant”.”The constitution of Ghana as the fundamental law of the country, which has sustained the stability of the nation, frowns seriously upon any attempt to overthrow a government and that is why that offence [treason] is punishable by death,” Mr Dame said.
Ghana had last carried out an execution in 1992 when it returned to democratic rule.
Last year lawmakers last year voted to abolish the death penalty for ordinary crimes, replacing it with a life sentence.