After more than 13 years of being deprived of his livelihood as a teacher because of a crime he did not commit, Mr Eric Asante can finally afford to smile because he has been reinstated as a teacher by the Ghana Education Service (GES).
Mr Asante was jailed 15 years for allegedly defiling and impregnating a 14-year-old pupil.
But, on January 26, 2017 he was acquitted and discharged by the Supreme Court after the apex court held that his conviction and sentence had no basis in law because he did not commit any crime.
The court came to that determination following a DNA test, which proved that Mr Asante was not the father of the child born out of the said defilement.
Since gaining his freedom and clearing his name, Mr Asante’s lawyers, with the support of The Mirror newspaper had fought hard for the teacher to get his job back.
The newspaper, as one of its projects, has, since November 2015, secured the services of a counsel to handle the case.
After many meetings and negotiations, the GES finally reinstated Mr Asante as a teacher at the Akrom Hamdania Islamic Basic School in the Asokore Mampong municipality in the Ashanti Region.
In a letter dated April 15, 2018, the GES said the reinstatement, based on the advice of the Attorney General’s (A-G’s) Department, took effect from March 1, 2018.
Mr Asante has, accordingly, written to the GES to confirm his acceptance of the new phase of his professional life.
Meanwhile, Mr Asante’s story is not over yet because there is still the matter regarding compensation, which is pending before the Supreme Court.
Lawyers for the teacher have filed a motion praying the court to order the state to compensate their client for all the emotional torture and loss of income during the 13 dark years he experienced.
The court was expected to give its ruling on the compensation last week Wednesday but that did not happen following the failure of the AG and Mr Asantes’ lawyers to conclude negotiations on his lost earnings throughout the 13-year period.
The case was, therefore, adjourned to May 30, 2018.
On September 5, 2005, Mr Asante was jailed 15 years in hard labour by the Tamale High Court for allegedly defiling and impregnating a 14-year-old girl who was his pupil.
The student claimed that Mr Asante was her lover and that he had, on many occasions, had sexual relations with her.
Throughout the trial, and even in prison, Mr Asante consistently denied the charges levelled against him, insisting that he never had any amorous relationship with the girl.
He, therefore, initiated an appeal at the Court of Appeal to prove his innocence, but, in October 2006, the Court of Appeal dismissed his appeal and upheld his conviction.
Not satisfied, Mr Asante appealed to the Supreme Court in 2012. The apex court ordered a DNA test to be conducted to ascertain whether or not the teacher was the father of the child.
In a unanimous decision on January 26, 2017 the five-member panel held that the DNA test proved that Mr Asante was not the biological father of the baby and, therefore, he could not have been responsible for the pregnancy that brought forth the child.
According to the court, apart from the pregnancy, the prosecution in the trial that led to the conviction failed to present any other evidence that Mr Asante had defiled the alleged victim.
It further held that the so-called victim of the defilement, by lying that the teacher had impregnated her, was dishonest and, therefore, her testimony was deliberately false.
The five-member panel was presided over by Mr Justice Anin Yeboah.
Other members were Mr Justice Paul Baffoe-Bonnie, Mr Justice Sule Gbadegbe, Mr Justice Gabriel Pwamang and Mr Justice Yaw Appau.
Story: Freeman Awlesu KORYEKPOR
Writer’s email: firstname.lastname@example.org