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05.12.2007 General News

Bloody 64 In Court

By Daily Guide
Bloody 64 In Court

THE LEGAL battle between the Republic and former First Lady, Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings, took a dramatic twist on Monday when she made another appearance at the court trying her for fraudulently acquiring the Nsawam Cannery.

A larger than usual crowd of supporters and well-wishers stormed the premises of the Accra Fast-Track High Court amidst drumming and singing.

Of particular interest was the lead banner held up by the jubilant supporters who were clad in National Democratic Congress (NDC) colours.

The group's banner read: “Afomli 64 Battalion Shieloi,” and showed the painting of a man pounding another person in a mortar with blood splattering out.

They drummed, sang and paraded up and down the court arena and the street between the Ghana Commercial Bank (GCB) and the court.

The large crowd, comprising mostly the youth, prompted the police authorities to dispatch a monitoring team to the court.

Other supporters, mainly older women who were frail-looking, lay on the ground and dozed off around the court premises as they waited for the proceedings to end.

Leaders of the chanting NDC loyalists, some of whom were personal aides to Mrs. Rawlings, charged at the police in their attempt to provide protection for the former First Lady.

The personal aides claimed that the police were sacking the supporters and failing to carry out proper crowd control, and that what was being applied was unacceptable because the supporters were not troublesome.

The well-armed police personnel however cautioned the aides saying they were there to ensure their safety. They therefore pleaded with the NDC loyalists to cooperate with them.

Without any further confrontation, the waiting crowd chanted as Mrs. Rawlings emerged from the court room.

One old lady told DAILY GUIDE: “We are not afraid of them. We will come today and tomorrow and as long as she wants us to be here.”

The NDC faithful took turns to shake hands with the former First Lady until she sat in the 4x4 Toyota Jeep which conveyed her to the court.

As the vehicle sped off, the banner with the bloody insignia was held aloft in front of the vehicle.
Sitting continues today.

Last Monday, the Attorney General, Hon. Joe Ghartey told Mrs Rawlings that the option was still open for her to return the GIHOC Nsawam Cannery assets or she and the other accused persons should pay the ¢21billion they caused the state to lose, for which they were standing trial.

According to him, probity and accountability were of essence in the Constitution, adding that in exercising his powers, he had not acted without jurisdiction.

Mrs. Rawlings and five others are being tried for their alleged role in the fraudulent divesture of GIHOC Nsawam Cannery, leading to the loss of billions of cedis to the state.

This was in response to an application for stay of proceedings pending the final outcome of a civil suit by the former First Lady against the Divestiture Implementation Committee (DIC) and the AG, in a court presided over by Justice Richard Aquaye.

The AG said the charges for which the accused persons – Nana Konadu Agyemang Rawlings; Sherry Ayitey, Director of Caridem; Kwame Peprah, former Finance Minister; Emmanuel Amuzu Agbodo of the DIC; and Thomas Benson Owusu; an accountant, as well as Caridem - were standing trial, were not unknown in the criminal laws of Ghana.

Mr. Ghartey was of the opinion that for the accused persons to request for a stay of proceedings in the case was to ask the court to interfere with the AG's power to initiate criminal proceedings.

Explaining further, he said the court could have done that only if the AG, in exercising his power under Article 88 of the Constitution, had acted without jurisdiction, and that only a criminal offence should act as a barrier to another criminal offence.

The AG, who is also the Member of Parliament (MP) for Essikado, indicated that claims by the accused persons that they had been charged for the same offence before, were not true.

In addition, he said, the charges were based on a report by the Auditor-General, who in pursuant of Article 187 of the Constitution, investigated the 31st December Women's Movement, which owns Caridem Development Company of which Nana Konadu is the president.

Consequently, he prayed the court to strike out the application since it was misconceived and unmeritorious.

The defence team, led by Mr. Bram Larbi, asked the court to give it two days to respond to the AG's submission on a point of law.

By Jos Garneo Cephas