Ghana's Yakubu Yahuza of NPP to appeal against death sentence

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
The opposition has rejected the president's victory in elections as fraudulent

An opposition party youth activist in Ghana will appeal against a court's ruling to sentence him to death by hanging, his lawyer has said.

The jury's ruling against Yakubu Yahuza was "notoriously bad", he told the BBC.

Yahuza was sentenced on Tuesday over the 2009 killing of governing party activist Rashid Alhassan in clashes between rival groups in northern Ghana.

The death penalty has not been used since 1993 in Ghana, often hailed as a stable democracy in West Africa.

'Appeal for calm'

Four other people tried with Yahuza were sentenced to 36 years in prison.

The lawyer for the five, Obiri Boahene, told the BBC the seven-member jury's ruling was "incurably and notoriously bad and a substantial miscarriage of justice".

"It flies against the evidence on record," he added.

The five were arrested in February 2009 following clashes between supporters of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) party and opposition New Patriotic Party (NPP) in Ghana's northern regional capital, Tamale.

Several houses, cars and motorbikes in communities were set ablaze, and Mr Alhassan was killed in the violence.

The sentences comes at a delicate time time, as the Supreme Court is due to rule next week on an opposition challenge to President John Mahama's narrow victory in elections last year, reports the BBC's Akwasi Sarpong from the capital, Accra.

Appeals have been going out to supporters of the NDC and NPP, especially in the volatile north, to give peace a chance and not to unleash violence once the Supreme Court gives its verdict, our reporter says.

The court is considering a petition filed by the NPP that the election was marred by vote-rigging.

Official results gave Mr Mahama 50.7% of the vote and 47.7% for the NPP's Nana Akufo-Addo.

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