Three soldiers among six sentenced to death for coup plot in Ghana

ACCRA, Ghana (AP) — A high court in Ghana has sentenced to death six people, including three soldiers, after convicting them of plotting to carry out a coup against the country’s government in 2019.

The sentencing renewed calls from rights activists on Thursday for the death penalty to be abolished.

The conviction and death-by-hanging sentence handed down on Wednesday was the culmination of a treason trial that started in 2021. It was the first treason conviction in several decades in Ghana, one of Africa’s most stable democracies, and comes amid a surge of coups in the continent.

Their conviction “sends a strong signal to the nation that to destabilize or organize to overthrow the constitution will not be countenanced and will be taken quite seriously,” said Attorney General Godfred Yeboah Dame, who prosecuted them.

The court acquitted three others charged in the case, two of whom are military officers.

The six were arrested while testing weapons which the state prosecutor alleged they intended to use to overthrow the government. They had pleaded guilty in the case and the conviction will be appealed, their lawyers said.

It was not clear whether the six convicted would be executed as Ghana has not carried out any execution since the early 1990s.

Ghanaian lawmakers amended the country’s Criminal Offences Law last year to generally replace the death penalty with life imprisonment, though the death sentence remains a punishment for acts of high treason as provided in the country’s constitution.

Amnesty International’s Ghana country director, Genevieve Partington, said in an interview with The Associated Press that the death penalty to be abolished.

“Amnesty International is completely against the death sentence. In Ghana we have been fighting to end the death penalty over the past 30 years,” Partington said.

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