21.11.2007 General News

No fishy deal at court

By Daily Graphic
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One of the lawyers for the Managing Director (MD) of Trasacco Company Limited, Ian David Morris, and nine others has described as false an assertion by an Accra-based lawyer, Mr Bight Akwetey, that there was something "fishy" in the granting of bail to his clients by the Appeal Court on Monday.

Mr Morris and the nine others were granted bail by the Court of Appeal after they had been jailed 45 days by an Accra High Court for contempt of court on Monday morning.

Mr Kofi Peasah-Boadu said it was "unfortunate and inappropriate" for Mr Akwetey to cast insinuation at the judiciary, adding that "there was nothing fishy because the due process of the law was followed. Nobody procured the panel to hear the matter. We filed our processes at the registry and our case was accordingly listed and heard on its merit".

Reacting to an assertion by Mr Akwetey that the way in which bail was granted was suggestive of how the legal system was being manipulated by "big people" in a story carried by the Daily Graphic titled "Appeal Court saves Trasacco MD, Others", counsel said nobody manipulated the judiciary.

He said the panel that sat was made up of people of great repute who applied the law in their work and it was, therefore, not right for Mr Akwetey to cast wild and unsubstantiated insinuations at the panel and the judiciary as a whole.

"If the High Court has powers to hear an application ex-parte in urgent cases, I cannot see any reason the Court of Appeal cannot hear our application for bail where the liberty of the applicants was at stake," counsel noted.

Mr Akwetey had said that the manner in which the Appeal Court was quickly constituted to sit and grant bail to the contemnors looked "funny and fishy", but counsel for the Trasacco MD responded that the panel was an afternoon session which had already been empanelled to hear cases for the day.

Mr Peasah-Boadu said the panel was sitting well before the application for bail was filed, adding, "Mr Akwetey argued on a wrong premise because, in the first place, he was talking about stay of execution pending appeal, while we filed for bail pending appeal.

The MD of Trasacco Company Limited had been convicted alongside two of his directors, Cinzia Ines Taricone and Ernesto Taricone.
The contemnors, who had earlier in the day been sentenced to 45 days jail term, were granted bail later in the evening by the Court of Appeal.

The other appellants were Alhaji Mohammed, the CEO of Magnum Force Security Company; Adwoa Omari, the MD of Empire Builders Limited; Winifred Kumodzie, surveyor of Empire Builders Limited and Trasacco Company Limited; George Akakpo, Head of Security, Empire Builders Limited and Trasacco Com¬pany Limited.

Trasacco Company Limited, Empire Builders Limited and Mangnum Force Security Company Limited were convicted as entities by the court which found them guilty for trespassing on the lands of residents and developers of Nmai-Dzorn, a suburb of Accra.

The 10 had, on November 5, 2007, escaped jail after they were convicted for flouting the orders of a competent court of law by trespassing on the property of Nmai Dzorn residents association when their counsel's application for bail was granted.

However, at the court's sitting in Accra on Monday, the court refused to grant them bail pending the outcome of an appeal against their conviction.

In less than four hours after their conviction lawyers for the appellants, namely; Messrs Ayikoi Otoo, Kofi Peasah-Boadu and David Kudzoadji, filed an application for bail pending the outcome of the appeal against their clients' conviction.

Their case was instantly listed before a panel of judges and heard.

The court, presided over by Mrs Justice Henrietta Abban, with Mr Justice Samuel Marful-Sau and Ms Mariama Owusu as panel members, heard the ex-parte motion for bail filed on behalf of the appellants by their lawyers.

Counsel for the appellants argued that the lower court had no jurisdiction to hear the contempt case because there was no formal transfer of the case which was then at the Tema High Court to Accra by the Chief Justice, as was required by law.

Counsel had also argued that the appellants were not parties to the suit which was filed against the Nungua Stool by the Nmai Dzorn residents association, adding that the appellants bought the land from the Nungua Stool before judgement was given against the stool in 2003.

The court, after listening to the appellants' arguments, held that counsel for the appellants had raised very salient legal issues which needed to be looked at.

It also held that the sentence against the appellants was short and if they were allowed to serve their sentences, they would have completed their sentence before the appeal would be heard, thereby constituting a substantial miscarriage of justice.

The court, accordingly, granted the appellants bail in the sum of ¢500 million each with a surety.

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