THE COURT of Appeal yesterday ordered the treasurer of the 31st December Women Movement (31st DWM), Sherry Ayittey, to go back and open her defence at the Fast Track High Court (FTC) following the court's dismissal of her application for stay of proceedings against the decision of the trial court.
In effect, the court has affirmed the decision of the FTC, which called upon Ayittey to open her defence after ruling against a submission of no case by her counsel.
The court, presided over by Justice J.B. Akamba, said it arrived at the decision after carefully considering the grounds of appeal and had found no special circumstances to warrant granting the application by the accused.
Other members of the panel were Justices E.A. Addo and Mrs. Henrietta Abban, who read the ruling of the court.
Ayittey had appealed against the decision of the FTC calling on her to enter a defence in the divestiture of the Ghana Rubber Estate Limited (GREL) case and further filed a stay of proceedings pending the determination of the substantive appeal.
The FTC, where she is standing trial for bribery together with three others, called on her to open her defence on three out of the six count charge of causing financial loss to the state.
The other accused persons are Emmanuel Amuzu Agbodo, Executive Secretary of the Divestiture Implementation Committee (DIC), Ralph Casely-Hayford, a businessman and Docas Ocran, a housewife.
They are accused of receiving various sums of money as public officers in the divestiture of GREL in favour of Societe Industrielle Plantation Hevea (SIPH), a French company.
However, the fourth accused, Docas Ocran, was acquitted and discharged for lack of evidence by the FTC, whiles the third accused, Casely-Hayford had since completed entering his defence before the same court.
Meanwhile, the Court of Appeal will today, April 1, 2004 decide on a similar application by Agbodo against the FTC ruling to open his defence.
Arguing his case before the court, counsel for Agbodo, Mr. J. H. Senoo noted that there had not been any preceding agreement with his client prior to the alleged ¢25million being given to him by the third prosecution witness, Dr. Albert Owusu Banarfo.
Counsel submitted that if the trial judge had examined all the pieces of evidence that pertained to his client, he would have acquitted and discharged him.
According to Mr. Senoo, considering August-September 1996, as the period during which his client was alleged to have received the money, there was no way Agbodo could influence the divestiture of GREL, when the final decision approving the proposals was done on June 26, 1996.
Furthermore, counsel contended that the fact that his client was the executive secretary of the DIC did not mean that he was part of the technical committee that saw to the divestiture of the company.
Counsel argued that there had not been any evidence led to indicate the role played by his client in the divestiture, since Agbodo had since denied receiving the money.
However, the Chief State Attorney, Mr. Eric Francis Amisson Agbolosu argued otherwise.
He asked the court to refuse the application to enable the case to continue at the high court because it was not worth any merit.
He said the accused agreed directly or indirectly to be influenced in the divestiture of GREL.