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20.04.2007 Crime & Punishment

Court Declines Bail To Abodakpi

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

The former Trade and Industry Minister, who is also the sitting Member of Parliament (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, to wilfully cause 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 (NDC) administration when they 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.

The court described the bail application as unmeritorious and that its refusal would not occasion any miscarriage of justice to the applicant, while being a sitting MP did not make his case any exceptional to justify the granting of bail pending an appeal.

In its ruling, the court said its conclusion to convict and sentence the applicant was based on evidence before it and could not be said to be erroneous in fact or law.

It said the assertion by counsel for the applicant that he had been a sitting MP since 1993 was true but the same could not be said about the fact that all his relatives were in the country and, therefore, he could not run away.

The court said during the trial of the applicant, it was established that some of his children were outside the country.

The court was packed by sympathisers of the jailed MP. After the court's ruling, some members of the audience were still glued to their seats, apparently shocked because their expectation had not been met and those who stood up either folded their arms or placed them in their pockets.

Meanwhile, the appeal has been fixed for April 23, 2007 at the Court of Appeal.

The jailed MP's counsel, Mr Charles Hayibor, on March 15, 2007 moved the court to admit his client to bail because his appeal pending at the Court of Appeal had a great chance of success.

According to counsel, the application was based on the provisions of Section 33 (1) of the Courts Act and Section 96 of the Criminal Procedure Code Act 30, both of which related to the granting of bail to an accused person pending an appeal.

He said the defence was dissatisfied with the court's judgement and it was its humble view that there were exceptional grounds which justified the application.

For instance, counsel said, the applicant had been a sitting MP since 1993 and during his trial he never flouted the bail conditions.

However, the prosecution, led by the acting Director of Public Prosecutions, Ms Gertrude Aikins, opposed the application and described 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.

Story by Stephen Sah