By Kwasi Kpodo
ACCRA (Reuters) - Hundreds of Ghanaians on Tuesday trooped to Accra to watch alleged acts of bribery involving judges and other judicial service workers captured on video by an investigative journalist.
The Tuesday evening public viewing, the first since the video was released to the authorities early this month, saw the 6,000-capacity auditorium of the Accra International Conference Centre packed to capacity.
The three-hour recording showed scenes of judges accepting bribe money through intermediaries in the biggest corruption scandal to hit the West African nation's judicial system in decades.
In one such scene, a high court judge was seen tucking a bundle of bribe money in a compartment of his car and promising to free an armed robbery suspect. He was shown acquitting the suspect few days later.
Others took tubers of yams and goat in addition to money.
The scenes shown in the nation's capital drew intermittent jeers of disapproval from the crowd which include business leaders, members of the clergy and top government officials, led by the minister of justice.
"The scenes are revealing and shocking... it has left a deep scar on our judicial system that will take years to erase," 52-year-old businessman Jojo Famiye told Reuters as he made his way out of the packed auditorium.
The judicial council has suspended 22 junior judges who appeared in the video. It is also investigating the conduct of some 12 high court judges to determine whether there is a case for their impeachment.
Some of the judges have denied any wrongdoing and have filed a challenge in court, saying their suspension had no legal basis because documents relating to the video that were submitted by the journalist were not made available to them.
One of the high court judges also filed an injunction against the public showing of the video but later withdrew his action.
The expose has unsettled a country which prides itself on the efficacy and impartiality of its judiciary.
In 2013, Ghana's courts dismissed an election challenge by the opposition, which had sought to annul the re-election of President John Mahama the previous year, thus avoiding the kind of political conflicts that have ravaged other West African countries.
(Reporting by Kwasi Kpodo; Editing by Christian Plumb)