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16.01.2007 General News

Court To Rule On Abodakpi Case Feb 5

By Daily Graphic
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The Accra Fast Track High Court yesterday fixed February 5, 2007 to deliver its judgement in the trial of Dan Abodakpi, a former Minister of Trade and Industry, who has been charged with causing financial loss to the state.

The court, presided over by Mr Justice S. T. Farkye, a Court of Appeal judge with additional responsibility as a High Court judge, gave the date after he had listened to some points of law raised by counsel for the accused person in reaction to the prosecution's address.

Abodakpi is alleged to have conspired with the late Victor Selormey, who was also a former Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, to cause financial loss of $400,000 to the state through the Trade and Investment Programme (TIP).

They are charged with causing the transfer of the cedi equivalent of $400,000 during their tenure of office in the National Democratic Congress (NDC) administration when they co-chaired the TIP.

The former ministers are accused of causing the transfer from the TIP interest account lodged with ECOBANK Ghana Limited into the personal account of the project consultant, Dr Frederick Boadu.

The amount was in respect of a feasibility study for the establishment of a Science and Technology Community Park/Valley Project which was meant to enhance the export of non-traditional products.

However, the prosecution said the accused persons did not do any feasibility study but rather paid for a study proposal.

They are charged with three counts of conspiracy, two counts of defrauding and two counts of wilfully causing financial loss to the state and they both pleaded not guilty to the charges and are on self-recognisance bail to the tune of ¢3 billion each.

Selormey, however, died in the course of the trial.

In his response to the court yesterday, Mr Charles Hayibor called for the acquittal and discharge of his client.

That, he said, had become necessary because a vital document which Mrs Agnes Batsa, a former Head of the Bilateral Relations Unit of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, during her testimony, had said was with the police had not been made available to the court.

He said the document, which was the first letter written by the accused person authorising the ministry to pay the first instalment of $100,000 to Dr Boadu, was deliberately not tendered.

As a result, counsel said, the prosecution had failed to prove its case since, at the end of the trial, it had not produced that vital document to assist the court.

Furthermore, Mr Hayibor said where there was documentary evidence as well as oral evidence and where the oral evidence was conflicting, the court ought to rely on the documentary evidence.

He said if Mrs Batsa, during her testimony, had told the court that one of the two letters written by the accused person to authorise payments was with the police, then the court should lean on the documentary evidence rather than the oral evidence.

“Since they did not produce that letter, you do not have all the evidence before you,” counsel told the judge.

Mr Hayibor denied a portion of the prosecution's address that the defence had disclaimed the evidence given by Mrs Batsa and rather stated that the import of her evidence was that if the prosecution had produced the said letter, it would have aided the court to determine whether the accused person wrote a letter for the payment of a feasibility study or a proposal.

He used Article 19 (11) of the Constitution to debunk another portion of the prosecution's address that when a consultant was asked to cost the project he said it would not cost $400,000 but $150,000.

According to counsel, when he asked the consultant, during cross-examination, about the figure, he mentioned $150,000 as the minimum charge by an international consultant without giving the maximum amount.

He said if that was the case of the prosecution, then it ought to have amended the charge sheet to reflect the $250,000 and not the $400,000 it mentioned, since both were different things.

“By this the prosecution has now changed the reason why we are in court because nowhere in the charge was $250,000 mentioned but $100,000 and $300,000,” counsel stated.

Mr Hayibor urged the court to take a fresh look at the charges against his client vis-à-vis the prosecution's address, since it said the loss occasioned was $250,000.

Story By Stephen Sah

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