A defiant Editor of the Searchlight Newspaper, Mr. Ken Kuranchie has been sentenced to 10 days’ imprisonment, having been found guilty of criminal contempt by the Supreme Court.
The governing National Democratic Congress’s Stephen Atubiga was also sentenced to three days’ imprisonment for the same offence.
Delivering the judgment, the President of the nine-member panel, hearing the Presidential Election Petition, Justice William A. Atuguba, said Mr. Kuranchie did not show any remorse over comments considered offensive by the court.
He said the editor’s refusal to unequivocally apologise for the comments was a clear “defiance of the authority of this court and the due administration of justice.”
Mr. Kuranchie, following the court’s invitation last week, appeared in court today with three lawyers – Messrs. Samuel Atta Akyea, Yaw Owusu Addo and Kofi Boakye.
Unlike Mr Atubiga who appeared somber and apologised for the offending comments, Ken Kuranchie explained that his comments were not meant to offend the court.
After heated exchanges between the Daily Searchlight newspaper editor and the judges, Mr Kuranchie said if the justices felt offended by his comments, then he was sorry.
He, following the court’s summons to NPP Deputy Communications Director, Sammy Awuku, wrote a front page comment in his newspaper in which he questioned how the justices heard Sammy Awuku’s comments but didn’t hear worse commentary from others.
Sammy Awuku had said that the court’s citing of a Daily Guide report as an example of poor reporting, was selective and hypocritical.
The court took an issue with the statement. Sammy Awuku apologised. But the court punished him by banishing him from the court for the rest of the trial.
Mr. Kuranchie in his comment said he supported Sammy Awuku’s view that the court was being selective and hypocritical. He repeated similar sentiments in court Tuesday, stating that the First Respondent, President John Dramani Mahama had made statements that ought to be prejudicial and yet the court said nothing.
That infuriated the judges.
Reading the ruling of the court, Justice Atuguba said, “We were left in no doubt that he (Ken Kuranchie) understood those parts of his publication which impute deliberate selectivity and hypocrisy with regards to our remarks about Daily Guide and Sammy Awuku’s sanction.”
“We have no doubt that the said statements are made with intent by him to defy the authority of this court and the due administration of justice; accordingly we find him guilty of criminal contempt of this court and sentence him to 10 days imprisonment,” he added.
On the case of Mr. Atubiga, who had said that the governing NDC would disregard a verdict of the Court if it goes against the party, Justice Atuguba said he had “shown thorough remorse, having admitted his error readily and started his retractions before his appearance before this court.”
In spite of the remorse, the court said, Stephen Atubiba’s “utterances were very serious; they were intentionally made contemptuously; accordingly we find him guilty of criminal contempt and sentence him to three days’ imprisonment.”
Ken Kuranchie and Stephen Atubiga were quickly whisked away into waiting police vans and taken to the Nsawam Medium Security Prisons to begin their sentences.
A third person, Kwaku Boahen was, however, discharged after the comments that brought him to the court were found to have been made before the justices issued what they called a last touchline.