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30.03.2007 General News

Court To Rule On Abodakpi Bail Application

By William Yaw Owusu

An Accra Fast Track High Court will on April 19, decide whether to grant bail to Daniel Kwasi Abodakpi, former Trade and Industry Minister, who was sentenced to 10 years in jail on February 5 for causing financial loss to the state.

The packed court yesterday heard a submission by the acting Director of Public Prosecution, Gertrude Aikins, in reply to Abodakpi’s bail application.

Abodakpi’s application, filed on February 12 and a supplementary one filed on March 2, on his behalf by his counsel, Charles Hayibor, is asking the court to grant him bail pending an appeal against his sentence.

Opposing the application for bail, Ms. Aikins argued that although under Section 33 of the Courts Act and section 96 of the Criminal Procedure Code, application for bail is permitted it is not obligatory for the court to grant it.

She argued that a person found guilty by a court of competent jurisdiction could not be granted bail unless the conviction is overturned by a higher court.

The prosecution, she said, does not see how Abodakpi’s case could be exceptional because he is a Member of Parliament, adding that 'every person convicted of an offence should be treated equally.'

Referring to the applicant’s argument that the trial court failed to consider his defence in arriving at its judgement, Ms. Aikins said the court was entitled to accept the case of the defence or the prosecution, adding that 'there was evidence of guilt in the proceedings and this made the court to come to the conclusion that it did.'

She said, 'Failure to consider the defence of the applicant in the judgement is not a sole ground to set aside the whole judgement.In any case the applicant’s defence was considered.'

On the issue of a plea for mitigation, Ms. Aikins argued that there is no law or clause that directs a plea of mitigation before a sentence is passed saying, 'The court gave a sentence which is legal.'

She said the allegation that the money in contention was frozen in the bank was not a sufficient ground to warrant the granting of bail.

'Once the court gives a deterrent sentence, the good record of the applicant becomes completely irrelevant. The court’s sentence cannot be faulted as it was within the law,' she submitted.

Ms. Aikins said in their attempt to discredit the prosecution’s case, they had falsified evidence on record by substituting the defence witness for a prosecution witness, adding, 'They have themselves resorted to perjury.'

'This is not a proper case in which the discretion of the court should go in favour of the applicant. Some of the issues raised should be canvassed at the Court of Appeal,' she stressed.

Replying on points of law, Mr. Hayibor, said the court has every power to take a second look at its judgement due to the circumstances surrounding the case, hence the appeal.

He conceded that they substituted a defence witness for a prosecution witness, but said it was a mistake and asked: 'How does this amount to perjury?'

Abodakpi, 57, NDC MP for Keta since 1993, was sentenced to 10 years in hard labour on seven counts of conspiracy, causing financial loss to the state and defrauding by false pretences.

He was said to have illegally authorised the payment of 400,000 dollars to Dr. Fredrick Owusu Boadu, a Ghanaian consultant in Texas, United States, from Trade and Investment Project (TIP) fund set up to promote the non-traditional export sector.

Abodakpi was originally charged with Victor Selomey, a former Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, who died in the course of the trial.