President John Mahama has pardoned three persons serving a four-month jail term for criminal contempt.
A statement signed by the Communications Minister Dr Omane Boamah said the decision was taken on the advice of the Council of State and was on compassionate grounds.
A radio host with the Accra-based Montie FM Salifu Maase and two panelists, Alistair Nelson and Godwin Ako-Gunn were found guilty for scandalizing the court and sentenced to four months in prison.
Barely a month after being in jail, the three can now heave a sigh of freedom following the remission of their sentence.
The three had threatened to rape the Chief Justice Georgina Theodora Wood and kill other judges who sat on a case brought against the Electoral Commission.
By presiding over the case, the three said the judges wanted to foment trouble in the country and that if the 2016 elections turned violent they knew the homes of judges and finish them.
Their comments were roundly condemned by all and were later hauled before the judges to answer why they should not be held liable for contempt.
The three, together with the Directors of the radio station and the owner pleaded guilty to the charges of contempt and were duly sentenced on July 27, 2016.
Apart from the four-month jail term, the three were each slapped with GH¢10,000 cedis fine. Three of the Directors also had to pay GH¢10,000 each whilst the owner was slapped with GH¢30,000 cedis.
Shortly after they were sentenced there was a groundswell of petitions, mostly from party supporters, ministers of state and the contemnors themselves begging for pardon.
One of the lawyers for the contemnors, George Loh said the sentence was harsh and pleaded with the president to activate his powers of mercy under Article 72 of the Constitution.
The petitions were signed in haste and presented to the president, who in an unusual fashion, announced a handing over ceremony of the petition to the Council of State for advice.
Just days after the petitions were handed to the Cecilia Johnson led Council of State, a decision has been taken; an advice has been given to the president and the contemnors are to be set free.
The statement from the presidency read:
“The President of the Republic of Ghana, His Excellency John Dramani Mahama has, in consultation with the Council of State and in exercise of his constitutional powers under Article 72 of the Constitution, remitted the remaining prison sentence imposed on three persons: Salifu Maase (alias Mugabe), Alistair Nelson and Ako Gunn who were sentenced to 4 months imprisonment and a fine of GH¢10,000.00 each for contempt of court. The remission is effective 26th August 2016.
The three were sentenced on 27th July 2016 and have served part of the prison sentences imposed on them. They have also paid the GH¢10,000.00 fines.
The decision of His Excellency the President to remit their sentences on compassionate grounds follows a petition submitted to him by the contemnors appealing to the President to exercise his prerogative of mercy even as they continue to express deep remorse and regret for the unacceptable statements they made against the Judiciary.
“His Excellency, President Mahama takes this opportunity to remind all Ghanaians of the need to respect the institutions of State and exercise freedom of speech responsibly mindful of the need to preserve peace and national unity,” the statement said.