Jeff Atakora is speaking. He has been giving his closing statement for about five minutes now, facing the jury as he speaks clearly and concisely, basing his final arguments on the overwhelming evidence against Chris Bawa..
The courtroom is hushed. The television cameras are rolling, alternating between the stony-faced jury, Judge Ossom Annor, Chris, Baaba and the spectators.
…so, as you can see, Ladies and Gentlemen of the jury, we’ve proven to you beyond reasonable doubt that Mr. Chris Bawa did brutally force himself on Miss Baaba Brooks against her consent, and not only raped her, but beat her up mercilessly as well. You have heard from our credible witnesses who have nothing to gain by lying, and how their stories were consistent with each other. It is a very important principle that people in our society be held accountable for their actions, and in this case Mr. Chris Bawa needs to be held totally accountable for his undesirable actions against Miss Baaba Brooks.. We are a nation of laws, and everyone must follow those laws, and it is part of what makes our nation great. The notion of accountability has a great place in our criminal and justice system, and we have to face the consequences of our own actions.. Maybe the Defendant had a bad day, and maybe he was stressed beyond comprehension. Maybe he was drunk, or even under the influence of drugs, but I would ask you, in conclusion, that you find him accountable for what he did to a fellow human being, a woman who could be your sister, your daughter or even yourself… and that is, guilty of rape. Thank you.
He feels weak, a bit dizzy, and has to hold on to the guardrail in front of the jury stand for a moment to get his bearings.
This has been a most difficult case, because there is still that gnawing sensation in his guts that something just is not gelling. He turns, and he does not look at Chris. Chris’ eyes are half-shut as he sits silently. The silence and the tension is thick. Judge Ossom leans forward and looks at the jury.
The Defence Counsel has intimated that he will make no closing statements. Mrs. Helen Boateng and your fellow jury members, it’s now time. We go for a recess as we await your verdict.
A severe-looking woman sitting in the middle of the jury gets to her feet.
Thank you, Your Honour. We are all of a mind that our decision shall not take more than a few minutes. So, if you’ll indulge us, kindly hold on to the recess as we have a short discussion right here.
Alright, Mrs. Boateng. You’re excused.
There is absolute tension as the jury members get up and go through a door behind them. And then there is excited chatter everywhere. Junior, snivelling, is sitting between Effe and Eyram a couple of rows behind Chris.
Rupert and Wailer Vroom are sitting behind them.
Please, can I go to Daddy now?
(brushing tears from her cheek)
No, no, not now, my dear. Just a little longer.
The minutes drag slowly. Soon the time will come, and Chris will be taken away, and that will be the end.
Effe finally turns her head and looks at Chris. Her face is already tortured, but when she sees how torn he is, how painful his face is, how hurt he is, how absolutely crushed he is, and how his soul is on his face as he cries silently, she feels a sudden tearing pain in her heart, and she bows her head as she fights the urge to go to him and take him in her arms.
Sitting beside Atakora is Baaba Brooks. She reaches out and touches his hand gently.
I know this is not easy for you, Mr. Atakora. But I thank you very much for doing this for me.
All sounds die down as the door opens and the jury members troop in..They take their seats, and their eyes focus with hard intents on Chris Bawa. Judge Ossom sighs and sits forward. He raps sharply with his gavel, and the silence in the room is complete.
Has the Jury reached a decision?
Mrs. Helen Boateng gets to her feet.
Yes, we have.
Have you written it down as I requested?
Yes, Your Honour, we have.
And your verdict?
Mrs. Helen Boateng unfolds the little paper in her hand, and her hard eyes focus on Chris Bawa for a moment.
The jury finds Mr. Chris Bawa guilty on all counts, and requests the stiffest, maximum punishment for him. Other recommendations for monetary and other compensatory packages for Miss Baaba Brooks are contained in our brief.
There is rapturous applause and screams in the courtroom.
Thank you, members of the Jury. Can I please have your brief?
The paper is handed to a Court Clerk who takes it to the Judge, as people still continue to applaud. Judge Ossom bangs his gavel down repeatedly on the sound board until there is absolute silence. He looks at the sheet of paper, and then he sets it down and looks down at Chris.
Will the accused please rise?
Ben Buabasah stands up, and after a while Chris stands up too. The judge fixes him with hard eyes.
Do you have anything to say, Mr. Chris Bawa, before I pass judgement?
Chris is no longer crying. His cold eyes meet the Judge’s, and he speaks slowly.
Do your worst, Judge.
Even the Judge gasps. It is unthinkable how he shows no remorse and is so rude even now. Everyone is shocked. Effe sees the proud angle of his head, his proud shoulders, a man who will never bow to another man, and she smiles sadly to herself. That is her man.
In all my career, I don’t think I’ve met any man as cold and as evil as you, Mr. Chris Bawa. I’m tempted to think that you’re not quite human. You were given a presidential pardon, and instead of using your freedom to put your life back on track, you turn around like a pig and returns to the bog. I don’t have words to describe you, and I’m tempted to think words are wasted on you. So be it. For this heinous crime against Miss Baaba Brooks, and having been found guilty by this court, I hereby sentence you to twenty-five years of hard labour at the Nsawam Prisons. Get this filthy man out of my sight!
There is more applause and more screams as two policemen approach Chris. One is Danso Cuger, and the other McBaiden. Danso smiles nastily as he puts a hand on the butt of his holstered gun, and McBaiden handcuffs Chris’ hands behind his back. In the audience Afful, Steve and Crankson are laughing. Mrs. Lois and Diana are weeping. Eyram is weeping as Rupert holds her tightly. Effe is cold. She can barely move, and though she fights hard, tears slowly well up in her eyes and spill down her cheeks.
What happens next? Chris ‘ Judgement is ready.