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20.11.2002 General News

Court rules on Abodakpi's case on Thursday

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The Court of Appeal would on Thursday 20 November rule on a case in which defence counsel for Daniel Kwasi Abodakpi, former Minister for Trade and Industry, is praying for an order of stay of proceeding on an Accra Fast Track Court's ruling that he should be tried summarily.

Justice Omari Sasu, presiding, Mr Justice Samuel K. Asiamah and Ms Justice Rose C. Owusu, Appeal Court Judges who heard the case said the court would consider submission made by both prosecution and defence and adjourned until Thursday.

Kwabla Senanu, counsel for Abodakpi, had earlier asked the Fast Track Court to try his client as well as Mr Victor Selormey, former deputy finance minister by indictment, since they might not have fair trial when tried summarily.

The Fast Track Court presided over Justice Stephen T. Farkye, an Appeal Court Judge, who is sitting as an additional High Court Judge dismissed the application and ruled that the court was not empowered to try the offenders by indictment.

Abodakpi and Selormey are being tried on seven counts of conspiracy to commit crime, defrauding by false pretences and wilfully causing a total loss of ¢2.73b to the State. They have denied all the charges and are currently on self-recognisance bail in the sum of three billion cedis each.

Senanu told the Court of Appeal that the offences under which his client has been charged are complicated. Counsel stated that since the trial would involve calling several witnesses, it would take a long time to complete. His client also faces a maximum sentence of 25 years especially on charges of defrauding under false pretences.

"Since an appeal does not operate as stay of proceedings, I pray for proceedings to be stayed forthwith in order not to render my victory on appeal nugatory and to prevent quashing of proceedings already embarked upon, only for the court to repeat the process leading to unnecessary waste of human and material resources."

Replying, Anthony Gyambiby, Principal State Attorney, who spoke for the prosecution, led by Osafo Sampong, Director of Public Prosecution, noted that over the years the Attorney-General had been empowered by constitution to try matters summarily or on indictment saying cases had been tried summarily over the years. "Defence has not been able show how the Attorney General had been malicious in the case."

Gyambiby said defence is only trying to be speculative on the witnesses to be called, adding, "if the defence is claiming that many witnesses are going to be called then they know those witnesses who would be called." He noted that Selormey was not part of the appeal saying this implies that the other accused wants the trial to go on.

Mr Gyambiby stated that defence had not been able to state any special reasons why stay of proceedings should be granted adding it was only causing undue delay in the trial. He therefore urged the court to dismiss the application because it was unmeritorious and should not be entertained. "If stay of proceeding is granted it would be a blank cheque for the lower courts," Gyambiby added.

The case for the prosecution is that between May and December 2000, the accused persons allegedly transferred $4,000 into the local bank account of Dr. Fred Owusu-Boadu, a consultant, through ECOBANK (Ghana) Limited. He said the money, whose transfers were authorized by Selormey, were to be used as fees for feasibility studies towards the establishment of the science and technology project.

Gyambiby told the court that the project contract was supposed to be witnessed by legal Officers at the Ministry of Trade and Industry or the Attorney-General's Department, but this was not done.

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