I am not a lawyer, but in my laywoman's view, prosecuting attorneys or lawyers on the whole work for governments to try criminal cases in court. A prosecuting attorney normally instigates and clutches out legal proceedings against an accused person and works to convict criminals or secure other forms of justice.
A prosecuting attorney, therefore, has the onerous responsibility of making sure that there is a case to be heard in court before he/she proceeds to court. That is why it is normal for a prosecuting attorney to be involved in the investigations of a criminal case by working with the police, witnesses, those connected with the crime and possibly investigation agencies, with the view to collecting vital information which is pertinent to the case. A prosecuting attorney does all the leg work to determine whether the case in question is valid or not.
What I know is that a good prosecuting lawyer will pursue a conviction only when he/she is highly convinced beyond any reasonable doubt that there is a compelling case on hand. One of the biggest responsibilities of a prosecuting lawyer is to use his/her compelling evidence such as a testimony and research built on the case to convince a judge or jury about the possible guilt of the charged party.
But above all, the law allows a prosecuting attorney to determine the charge for which a criminal or accused will stand trial. For instance, if somebody has died, the prosecuting lawyer is responsible for settling on whether the accused person will stand trial for murder, manslaughter, or some other charge. A prosecuting lawyer may also decide what degree of charge the person will stand trial for, which can significantly persuade the penalty a convicted person is likely to receive.
Based on the above information, it would therefore, not be out of place to state that a good prosecuting lawyer who is bent on convicting criminals or winning cases has to do a thorough but effective investigative work before rushing to court or trial, as a shoddy work would not only expose the mediocrity of a prosecuting lawyer but also lead to multiple losses of cases.
It is a fact that in the run-up to the 2008 general elections then candidate, Professor John Atta Mills, promised to deal with corrupt officials of the erstwhile Kufuor administration. This is because of the way officials of the Kufuor administration conducted business in the country, which led the state to lose millions of dollars which would have otherwise gone to alleviate poverty and suffering in the country.
It is also a fact that since President Mills assumed office in 2009; his government has lived up to its campaign promise by investigating some of the financial excesses or irregularities that happened during the Kufuor regime. But strangely enough all the 13 high-profile cases against ex-government officials who served under Kufuor that have been sent to court have resulted in embarrassing defeats much to the dismay of many well-meaning Ghanaians.
It is not that a crime has not been committed. It is also not that the state does not have a compelling case against the accused officials. But it has always been the way prosecuting attorneys for the government has determined the charges or failed to convince the judges on those charges which has led to defeat upon defeat.
I remember the case against Kwadwo Mpiani and Dr. Charles Wereko-Brobbey for causing financial loss to the state in the matters of the [email protected] celebrations. On August 10, 2010, an Accra Fast Track High Court presided over by Justice Samuel Marful-Sau of the Court of Appeal stopped the state from prosecuting Wereko-Brobbey and Mpiani by using some technicalities to dismiss the case. The court absurdly held that the Attorney General's attempt to prosecute the two men “would lead to judicial absurdity”.
The court in letting go of the accused persons strangely stated that the prosecution of Dr. Wereko-Brobby and Mr. Mpiani was based on the white paper issued by the Government after the Ghana @ 50 Commission of Enquiry report. It therefore, added that the Constitution frowned on any attempt to build up criminal proceedings against any person who testified before a commission of enquiry, and that the prosecution was based on adverse findings of that Commission.
The court did not state that Wereko-Brobbey and Mpiani did not commit any financial loss. It also did not state that they were not guilty. But it only used a hidden technicality to blind side the government prosecutors which led to the loss of that case.
Just last week, the government again lost another high profile case in which the Former Minister of Foreign Affairs in the Kufuor administration, Akwasi Osei Adjei, who was charged with causing financial loss to the state for importing rice that could not be traced, was acquitted and discharged by the Commercial Court in Accra.
It is interesting to note that one of the reasons for acquittal was the explanation that the state used an outmoded law to charge the accused. But it is important to note that the judge did not specifically state that Akwasi Osei Adjei did not commit the crime of which he was being prosecuted. Therefore, it is very baffling as to why in all these cases empanelled judges have used some flimsy technicalities to let go of these NPP criminals.
But as soon as these criminals are let loose, the NPP jumps out to rejoice and point out that if their members were guilty they would not have been acquitted, forgetting that the fact that their members were acquitted on technicalities does not mean that they did not commit the crimes they were accused of.
I would like to take readers down to the memory lane on something that the New Patriotic Party (NPP) leadership has said time and time again since they lost power in 2008. Readers would recall that the NPP leadership aided strongly by ex-president John Kufour has taunted the NDC government on countless of occasions that they should take them to court if they think that they are thieves or have duped the country in any shape or form.
There is a famous saying that if a blind man threatens to stone you, it may be obvious that he has his leg firmly rooted on a stone. That is why the NDC government should not have taken lightly the bragging and taunting by the NPP officials that if they think they the NPP folks are thieves they should take them to court.
It is an unwritten fact that NPP lawyers constitute more than 70 per cent of lawyers in the country. And with an NPP adherent serving as the Chief Justice, all judges empanelled to try cases of NPP officials would no doubt be sympathetic to the NPP. Therefore, it does not take these NPP judges any sweat to dismiss charges brought against NPP officials who have duped or stolen from the country's coffers. Is it therefore, any wonder that the government has lost all the 13 cases against NPP officials who have duped the country in various forms?
My beef goes to the prosecutors of these high-profile cases. I am inclined to believe that they are either rushing to court with their cases, not doing thorough investigations on all those cases or simply they are just “sheep in a wolves clothing” (NPP sympathizers) who are there to sabotage the NDC government. Can it be possible that for more than three years, government prosecutors who are highly trained lawyers and who have been in the mill for so many years with vast experience and knowledge would go to court and get all their cases thrown out on mere technicalities? I mean 13 high-status cases?
I strongly believe the Mills government has to take a deeper look into this issue since it is embarrassingly embarrassing to the government. They cannot continue to lose all these high-flying cases and presume all is well. Something needs to be done. If the prosecutors are simply sabotaging the government, something needs to be done.
I know prosecutors do due diligence on cases by weighing the pros and cons to even determine the possible counter questions by the defence team before going to court. That is why the Attorney General has to ensure that prosecutors put on high profile criminal cases are more than competent to the task. What we have seen so far from the Attorney General's office pales to shoddiness at its best as all the cases have been dismissed with unconvincing explanations by judges.
As a result, the NPP folks have become so emboldened that they think they did not even harm a single fly let alone rape the country when they were in power for 8 years. And I bet they will highlight this during the heat of the 2012 campaigns.