Six senior military officers, including Ghana's former head of state Gen. Fred Akuffo, were executed here today by the country's new military government.
A government announcement said the six men died at dawn before a firing squad at the Ieshie military range outside this West African capital.Among them were Gen. A. A. Afrifa, who was Ghana's head of state from 1966-69, and former foreign minister Roger Felli.
It was the second round of executions of top military officers since Flight Lt. Jerry Rawlings and a group of junior Officers and privates overthrew the Akuffo government three weeks ago.
Former head of state Maj. Gen. Ignatius Acheampong and former border guard commander Maj. Gen. E. K. Utuka were executed by a firing squad 10 days ago.
Other officers executed today were Maj. Gen. R. E. A. Kotei, a former army commander, Air Vice Marshal George Yaw Boakey, a former air force chief, and Admiral Joy Amerdume, chief of the navy.
All were convicted by secret military tribunals of misusing their positions to enrich themselves while in office, the government announcement said.
Another 17 person - mostly senior military officers and including some top civil servants - received prison sentences ranging from five to 15 years.
In an interview with Leon Dash of the Washington Post last Friday, Rawlings said that about 50 senior officers would face trials before "people's courts" this week and that those found guilty of stealing from "the nation's coffers" would be executed regardless of international protests.
Rawlings said that his Revolutionary Council would hand powers to a civilian government in three months. But, he said, his government was engaged "in a national exercise to lift the image of Ghanaians through a moral battle."
Ghana held its first elections earlier this month, but none of the 10 candidates won the necessary 50 percent of the popular vote. A runoff election between the two front-runner - Victor Owusu and Hilla Limann - is to be held in July.
Today's execution, witnessed by a large crowd at the military range on the shore of the Atlantic Ocean, was a part of the "house cleaning" promised by Rawlings and his colleagues before they hand power over to a civilian government Oct. 1.
Akuffo, 42, Afrifa, 43, and the other four men were brought to the firing range in army trucks, then were tied to stakes and shot simultaneously.
The executions were immediately condemned by Britain, which urged the United States, Canada and Western European nations to make a joint protest to the new Ghanaian authorites. The West German government expressed "deep dismay" over the executions.
Akuffo and Afrifa were both trained at Britain's elite Sandhurst Military Academy.
Afrifa, who helped stage a military coup to depose Ghana's first president Kwame Nkrumah in 1966, came from a long line of Ashanti tribal chiefs and military leaders. A tall dashing officer with a bushy moustache, he twice served with U.N. peacekeeping forces in the Congo.
Afrifa stepped down as head of state in 1969 to make way for a civilian government and subsequently became a wealthy businessman.
Akuffo, a much less flamboyant figure, became head of state last July when Gen. Acheampong, then head of the military council, was forced to resign. But Akuffo, who shunned the limelight, immediately asserted that he would stay in politics for a short period and under his leadership a new constitution for civilian rule was drafted.
Ghanaians voted in a general elections this month despite the June 4 coup by Rawlings and other junior officers.