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06.12.2007 Politics

Rawlings In Court

By Daily Guide
Rawlings In Court
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DIE-HARD SUPPORTERS and sympathizers of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) yesterday thronged the Fast-Track High Court in Accra to catch a glimpse of the former President, Flt. Lt. Jerry John Rawlings when he accompanied his wife to court.

Most of the supporters, carrying huge banners of NDC, arrived in Mercedes Benz buses in groups, hours before the former first couple turned up, while others, in party colours, walked to the court.

The old and frail-looking women were not left out of the fanfare but soon, they got tired and sat at the entrance to the courtroom waiting for their idols, while the young and vibrant ones surrounded the court, singing and chanting 'jama' songs with police security nowhere in sight.

Young men clad in red outfits believed to be members of the 64 battalion group, held big banners of a man pounding another man in a mortar with blood spattering out, while some of them carried pots filled with leaves and concoctions on their heads as if performing some traditional rites or rituals around the court premises.

The excitement reached its peak when former President Rawlings and Nana Konadu arrived in their Green Toyota four-wheel drive.

At this point, the drumming and dancing intensified with both the young and old jostling to get closer to the former first couple.

The court security, who tried in vain to calm down the uncontrollable supporters numbering about 100, were however relieved when some policemen arrived at the scene.

The excitement also died down after the couple had entered the courtroom.

It would be recalled that the trial judge, Justice Richard Aquaye, had at one of its sittings, registered his displeasure at the noise-making of the defendants' supporters whenever court was in session.

Yesterday however, the 'jama' session resumed as soon as the Rawlingses exited the courtroom and went on a 'walk-about' to greet and wave to their supporters before leaving the court premises.

The former First Lady and five others have been hauled before the court for allegedly helping in fraudulently divesting GIHOC Nsawam Cannery to Caridem Development Company of the 31st December Women's Movement.

Other persons in the trial include Sherry Ayittey, Managing Director of Caridem; Kwame Pepra, former Finance Minister; Amuzu Agbodo of the Divestiture Implementation Committee (DIC); Thomas Benson Owusu and Caridem Company.

In the courtroom yesterday, a lawyer who introduced himself as D.O. Lamptey nearly caused laughter when he said he was the lead counsel in the matter without knowing what transpired at the last hearing date.

He admitted that he did not know what his team did at the previous court sittings because he was new to the case. When the judge asked who he was leading, he could only point out one lawyer and explained that the other members had all gone out.

Just then, Tony Lithur, counsel for Konadu appeared, introduced himself and replied to Attorney General Joe Ghartey's response to his application on points of law.

Konadu had earlier filed an application for a stay of proceedings pending the final determination of a suit by her against the AG and DIC which Joe Ghartey opposed on the last hearing date, adding that he was only performing his duty and gave her the option of paying the ¢21 billion or returning the assets of GIHOC Nsawam Cannery to the state.

Tony Lithur was of the opinion that the AG, who was part of the Executive, needed to be checked and that the court was the only entity that could stop him to ensure that the Executive did not become too powerful.

According to Mr. Lithur, if Joe Ghartey was of the opinion that their application for a stay of proceedings was tantamount to interfering with his powers as AG by initiating criminal proceedings, then Hon. Ghartey had placed himself above the Constitution, which was wrong.

The accused persons have pleaded not guilty to 15 counts of conspiracy to commit crime, stealing, conspiracy to alter documents and altering documents.

The case has been adjourned to December 18, 2007 for ruling.

By Fidelia Achama

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