The Trial Of The Beast…
THE TRIAL OF THE BEAST
Judge Kuntu’s eyes narrowed as he looked at the doctor.
He could barely breathe.
He felt himself going weak as the impossible exploded in his mind.
Could it be true? Was Gyamaan really pure? Could he have been wrong about this boy and the rape of a girl Kuntu adored, cherished and loved like a daughter?
Faddah looked at Zak again, and then he shook his head numbly. He walked unsteadily to his seat and sat down, dimly aware that Eduafo was getting to his feet, and then from a long way off he heard his opponent speaking.
“Erm, Your Honour, in light of what has just happened, the Defence wish to call Dr. Osafo Lassey back to the stand,” he said.
Barely able to speak, Justice Kuntu nodded.
Dr. Osafo was in the dock. He kept licking his lips like a mouse which had fallen into a bowl of palm oil, and sweat poured down his face in torrents.
He was scared.
“Dr. Osafo Lassey,” Eduafo said, holding a copy of the medical report. “You swore an oath on the Bible to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. You signed this medical report. Let me ask you just one simple question, did you carry out a complete examination of the rape victim, Miss Gyamaan Afriyie?”
It was as if no one was breathing in the court.
Dr. Lassey turned tortured eyes toward the judge.
“No, my Lord,” he said shakily. “She came in with the policemen, and she was so distraught she just couldn’t stop crying. I decided to wait a while before carrying out an examination. Just as I was taking her in, her father arrived, and when he saw the condition of his daughter, he was so angry that he took her away.”
“And you issued a Medical Report?” Eduafo was so shocked that his voice was a whisper.
“My mistake, and I’m sorry,” Dr. Lassey moaned. “She was covered with blood, and the policemen gave a chilling account of the condition they found her in. It was all so conclusive that I…I-I assu-assumed th-that –”
“You assumed wrong!” Eduafo exploded. “You bad man! How could you be so lapse and unprofessional? And whoever told you that breaking a girl’s virginity makes her bleed like a gutted bull? Even I, a novice, knows blood from a broken hymen is minimal! You, as a professional medical practitioner, should have known better!”
A phone was ringing, breaking sharply into the ensuing silence…and it was the phone of Judge Kuntu.
He stared at the phone as if it were a snake.
The caller was Chief Justice Ayew Afriyie!
With trembling fingers Kuntu raised it to his ears.
“Hello,” he answered, striving for calm.
“Tutu!” the Chief Justice cried; his voice was filled with desperation. “I’m here with Gyamaan. We are watching proceedings live. She confirmed the boy’s story. He did not touch her. She indeed lied about it because she was ashamed I would find out that she offered herself to him.
True, I lost my temper and hit her when she told me about Zak for the first time, and that was why she wanted to get pregnant. She just confirmed everything to me, and she is so distraught. She speaks the truth, my son, and I believe her.”
“We were wrong, then.” Judge Tutu Kuntu whispered, his voice filled with dread.
He beckoned to Faddah and Eduafo, and spoke with them for a short time.
Faddah was shaken, and his face looked terrible when he returned to his seat. He stood up again and spoke in an unsteady voice.
“We have been told, reliably, that indeed the victim, Miss Gyamaan Afriyie, who was too distraught to come to court, has indeed admitted that her claim of rape against the Defendant, is a palpable lie…told to save her shame in the sight of her father. In view of what has come into light, the prosecution wishes to drop the rape charge against the accused!”
“Do that and apprise my office with the proper amended charge documents,” Tutu Kuntu said in a tired voice. “Court is adjourned for a week. Trial resumes next week Monday. Thank you, ladies and gentlemen.”
The court room remained hushed, absolutely stunned by the sudden twist of what had been a damning expectation.
Chief Inspector Boateng had derived a special pleasure in slapping handcuffs on Zak ever since he was captured.
It had given him special joy to drag him to court, and to testify against him.
Now, as he walked toward the boy and drew the handcuffs, that joy was gone. He looked at Zak’s inscrutable face, and for a moment he hesitated. Things had happened too fast and had gone in the wrong direction.
He had to remind himself almost forcibly that Zak had killed two persons and burned down a wing of an orphanage in a violent, rampage moment of rage.
The policeman had to remind himself that this young man was still a beast that did not deserve any form of sympathy.
When he put the handcuffs on Zak, he did it without the usual rough approach.
As Zak was led away, there was shouting and hooting, but not with the same volume which had preceded the trial.
A police van was waiting outside.
Two policemen who always guarded Zak opened the door and helped him up. They sat on each side of him as the van pulled away. They had also been very hard on the boy, and on several occasions had deliberately denied him food.
Zak had never complained.
There had been times when they had deliberately refused his calls to let him visit the toilet, and they had taken great pleasure in watching him suffer to hold on to the contents of his bowels and his bladder.
Indeed, they had sometimes prolonged it in the hope that he would suffer the ultimate disgrace of defecating in his clothes, but he had always been able to wait it out no matter how long they had kept him waiting.
They had done all that with the conviction that he had brutally raped an innocent girl.
They could not look at him now.
The van bounced along, and none of them spoke. After a while, the older one took the handcuff key from his top pocket, sighed deeply, leaned forward and deftly unlocked the handcuffs.
“Thank you,” Zak said calmly and massaged his wrists.
There was silence again.
After a short distance the younger policeman finally spoke.
“Erm, Zak, I learnt you were not given any food this morning.”
Zak Twum smiled wanly as he leaned his head against the side of the van and closed his eyes.
“That’s alright,” he said. “I’m used to hunger.”
The two cops looked at each other miserably, and then the one who had spoken suddenly patted the young man on the shoulder.
“You haven’t eaten the whole day?” he asked again.
“Don’t worry about it, sir,” Zak responded. “I’m alright.”
The policeman sighed heavily.
“Look, my wife gave me some porridge this morning,” he said at length. “I still have a bit left in the flask, and two doughnuts. Care for it? Would settle your belly for a while.”
Zak Twum smiled and opened his eyes, and the cops were appalled to see that tears glistened deep within his eyes.
“That would be very much appreciated, sir,” he said softly.
The policeman nodded and lifted a flask, opened it, and poured out a generous amount of kooko, a local millet porridge. He put two cubes of suger in it and stirred thoroughly, laced it with milk, and handed it to Zak.
The other one picked up the little paper sack containing the doughnuts and placed it beside Zak.
“Thank you for this kindness, officers,” the boy said, and began to eat silently. He might have been famished, but he ate slowly and carefully, his demeanour still calm.
The senior police officer moved forward and spoke through the barricaded window to the driver.
“Hey, Opoku, buy one iced water sachet when you see one,” he said.
“For the boy?”
Sure, sure,” the driver said. “Damn. Life is something else. How wrong can we be sometimes…damn shit!”
Araba Ntiamoah was reporting for Prime View Television.
The video clips showed Zak being led away, and then there were interviews first with Faddah and then with Eduafo.
Faddah tried to smile; he said the rape was a minor charge, and that he was glad the little girl was not ravaged after all.
He promised that the charges against Zak would be concentrated on the two murders and arson of which he was sure to get Zak the maximum death sentence.
Eduafo was not pelted with rotten juice this time round.
Instead the reporters seemed to be chasing him.
They asked of his opinion of the drastic twist the trial had taken. He said he would concentrate on the murders and see how best to defend his client, but in the meantime, he would take it a step at a time.
Araba turned toward the camera.
“So that was how it turned out today,” she said. “Somehow, quite suddenly, Zak Twum has turned the whole case with his tale of young love under strife, and a complete misunderstanding of events that led to the charge of rape against him. In the process, he seemed to have won a few hearts in his favour.
Although many want him to receive the severest form of punishment if he is found guilty of murder, they nonetheless seem to be a little more understanding of the way this young man, and others like him, seemed to have suffered just because they came from an orphanage.
And this has raised many serious questions about the state of our orphanages and the way they are run. The next few weeks promise to be interesting as the trial of the beast continues. Araba Ntiamoah, reporting for Prime View evening news!”
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