Three journalists arrested in February were possible prisoners of conscience. At least 13 political prisoners arrested in previous years, some of whom may have been prisoners of conscience, remained imprisoned at the end of the year. One death sentence was known to have been passed. In December, President J.J. Rawlings, Head of State since 1981, won the presidential elections and his party, the National Democratic Congress, won a majority of parliamentary seats. In February, Tommy Thompson and Ebenezer ("Eben") Quarcoo, publisher and editor respectively of the Free Press newspaper, and Kofi Coomson, editor-in-chief of the Ghanaian Chronicle, were detained for more than a week after their newspapers accused government officials of involvement in illegal drug dealing to finance the purchase of arms. They were charged with publishing a report "likely to injure the ... reputation of Ghana or the Government", an offence punishable by up to 10 years' imprisonment, and released on bail to await trial. By the end of the year, the Supreme Court had not ruled on a legal challenge to the constitutionality of the legislation under which they were charged, on the grounds that it contravenes the human rights provisions of the 1992 Constitution. At least six political prisoners arrested in 1994 and charged with treason (see Amnesty International Report 1995) remained imprisoned at the end of the year. They included Karim Salifu Adam, a former soldier and leading member of the opposition New Patriotic Party. His trial before a specially appointed High Court began in May 1996 and had not concluded by the end of the year. In a statement to the Court, he said the charges had been fabricated by the security police, the Bureau of National Investigation (BNI), because he had refused a financial inducement to implicate opposition leaders and neighbouring governments in a fictitious coup conspiracy, and that he had been beaten severely. He said that, after he refused to cooperate, he was moved to a flooded cell and tortured for six days. Five men Sylvester Addai-Dwomoh, Kwame Alexander Ofei, Kwame Ofori-Appiah, Emmanuel Kofi Osei and John Kwadwo Owusu-Boakye arrested in September 1994 and charged with treason (see Amnesty International Report 1995), remained imprisoned. No trial date had been set by the end of the year. At least seven political prisoners tried in the 1980s before the Public Tribunal, a special court which was not independent of government control and which allowed no right of appeal or appeal only to another government-appointed court, remained imprisoned. Despite doubts about the fairness of their trials, their convictions could not be challenged because of the Transitional Provisions of the 1992 Constitution granting legal immunity for any action by the outgoing military government of Flight-Lieutenant (now President) J.J. Rawlings. In May, Nana Akwasi Agyeman, the singer known as "Gemann", was sentenced to death for murder by the High Court in Accra. His appeal had not been heard by the end of the year. There were no executions. The authorities allowed more than 3,000 refugees on the ship Bulk Challenge to land in Ghana in May after it had been turned away by other countries. The refugees were fleeing renewed killing and fighting in Liberia's civil war. Amnesty International appealed to the government not to force refugees on the Bulk Challenge to return to Liberia.
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