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30.03.2007 General News

Court To Rule On Abodakpi’s Bail

The Accra Fast Track High Court yesterday fixed April 19, 2007 to rule on the bail application, pending appeal, filed by Dan Kwasi Abodakpi against his 10-year sentence for causing financial loss to the state.

That was after the prosecution had opposed the application, describing it as a waste of resources if the trial court granted bail to the applicant, while there was also no exceptional circumstance to warrant the grant of bail.

According to the prosecution, the proper place to ventilate the issue was the Court of Appeal, since the application was not one in which the discretion of the trial court should be exercised in the granting of bail, since Abodakpi was in proper custody.

Ms Aikins said in an effort to shred the case of the prosecution, the defence perjured when it said that a defence witness, Mrs Agnes Batsa, was a prosecution witness.

Mr Charles Hayibor, counsel for the applicant, in response, conceded that there was no way the defence could have perjured because it called Mrs Batsa as a witness and so what happened was by mistake.

“I am fallible, I make mistakes and I concede that that was a mistake. Mrs Batsa gave evidence as defence witness (DW 2),” counsel stated, and denied ever saying that because Abodakpi was a sitting Member of Parliament (MP), his case was exceptional.

Counsel for Abodakpi, earlier on March 15, this year, had urged the court to grant him bail, pending his appeal which had a greater chance of success.

The former Trade and Industry Minister, who is the sitting MP for Keta, was on February 5, 2007 sentenced to a 10-year jail term with hard labour by the court after being convicted on all seven counts of conspiracy, defrauding by false pretences and wilfully causing financial loss of $400,000 to the state.

Abodakpi was said to have, between May and December 2000, acted, together with the late Victor Selormey, who was a former Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Dr Frederick Boadu, a consultant, and other persons with a common purpose, wilfully caused financial loss of $400,000 to the state through the Trade and Investment Programme (TIP).

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.

They were charged with causing the transfer of the cedi equivalent of $400,000 during their tenure of office in the National Democratic Congress administration when the two ministers co-chaired the TIP.

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

They were arraigned on October 14, 2002 on three counts of conspiracy, two counts of defrauding and two counts of wilfully causing financial loss to the state but both of them pleaded not guilty to the charges and were granted self-recognisance bail.

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

In her response to the bail application, the acting Director of Public Prosecutions, Ms Gertrude Aikins, said the fact that Abodakpi was a sitting MP did not make his case exceptional, especially when nobody was above the law.

“Being an MP does not mean that he cannot serve the sentence imposed on him by a court of competent jurisdiction,” she stated, and added that the plea that the court did not listen to the case of the defence was untenable because the court was entitled to accept the case of either the prosecution or the defence and that was what it did.

According to Ms Aikins, the court took into consideration the case of the defence, saying that “the court gave a sentence which was legal and within its jurisdiction”.

She said there was no provision which made it mandatory for Abodakpi to make a plea for mitigation and at the end of the trial there was no circumstances tending him to make that plea.

Moreover, when the court decided to impose a deterrent sentence, the good case of the defence became irrelevant.

“The sentence cannot be faulted, since it was completely within the law. The court did not find any material conflict in the case of the prosecution,” Ms Aikins stated.

Regarding the contract fee for offshore consultants, she said that had been decided by the Court of Appeal when it was told that they ought to be paid $150,000.