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24.04.2007 Crime & Punishment

New Panel Of Judges To Hear Abodakpi’s Appeal

The Court of Appeal yesterday adjourned sine die (indefinitely) for a new panel of judges to be constituted to hear the appeal filed by Dan Kwasi Abodakpi against his 10-year jail sentence for causing financial loss to the state.

The adjournment is also to enable the record of proceedings to be served on Abodakpi's counsel who told the court that he had not received the document.

Abodakpi, who is 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 Fast Track High 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.

His attempt to get a bail pending the appeal failed when the trial court, on April 19, 2007, declined to grant his application for bail on the grounds that it was unmeritorious while its refusal would not occasion any miscarriage of justice to him.

The court held that being a sitting MP did not make Abodakpi's case any exceptional to justify the granting of bail pending an appeal.

The former Trade and Industries Minister was said to have, between May and December 2000, acted, together with the late Victor Selormey, 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.

When the case was mentioned at the Court of Appeal yesterday, it emerged that one of the panel members had already sat on an earlier submission of no case filed by the appellant.

It, therefore, became necessary for a new set of judges to be empanelled to hear the case.

Moreover, Mr Charles Hayibor, counsel for the appellant, told the court that although he had received the hearing notice, he had not been served with the record of proceedings.

“If I had been served with hearing notice earlier I would have gone for it myself,” counsel said.

The court asked counsel to see the registrar to get the document because the case was being adjourned since a panel member would not sit on it.

Story by Sebastian Syme