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19.06.2004 General News

Agbodo to open his defence on June 24

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Accra, June 19, GNA- Emmanuel Amuzu Agbodo, former Executive Secretary of the Divestiture Implementation Committe (DIC) on trial with two others in the Ghana Rubber Estates Limited (GREL) divestiture case at a Fast Track Court, will open his defence on Thursday, June 24. This has become necessary because Hanny Sherry Ayittey, Treasurer of the 31st December Women's Movement, and the first accused person in the case, is reported sick.

Last Thursday, Mr David Lamptey, counsel for Ayittey, informed the court that a communication from his client indicated that she was receiving medical treatment in a hospital in London.

Mr Lamptey said Shirley has just been discharged from hospital, but she was receiving post-surgery treatment, and that she would hopefully be in court from the middle of next month. Counsel therefore pleaded with the court to adjourn the case until his client returned, but Mr Osafo Sampong, Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) pleaded with the court to ask Agbodo to open his defence.

Mr John-Hansen Senoo, counsel for Agbodo pleaded for time for his client to open his defence.

Mr Justice J C Amonoo-Monney, an Appeal Court Judge, with an additional responsibility on the matter as a High Court Judge, adjourned the case to Thursday, June 24. More

Ayittey, Agbodo and Ralph Casely-Hayford, a businessman, are being tried for their alleged involvement in bribery and corruption in connection with the privatisation of GREL. The three were alleged to have used their positions to influence the DIC board to divest GREL in favour of Societe Industrielle Plantation Hevea, a French company.

They have all pleaded not guilty and each of them is on a self-recognisance bail.

When the accused persons were first arraigned sometime in 2002, they were four in number.

Sometime last year, the court acquitted and discharged the fourth accused person, Sati Dorcas Ocran, a housewife, after the prosecution had failed to establish a "prima facie" case against her. The court ruled that the three others had a case to answer, and therefore ordered them to open their defence.

While Mr Rodney Heward-Mills, counsel for Casely-Hayford, agreed that his client was prepared to open his defence, Mr Lamptey and Mr Senoo, counsel for Ayittey and Agbodo respectively, took the matter to the Court of Appeal.

In their view, the prosecution failed to prove its case against their clients "beyond all reasonable doubts", and that they pleaded with the trial court to acquit their clients.

The two accused persons lost the appeal, and the Court of Appeal ordered them to come back to the trial court for the continuation of the case.

That was why at its sitting on Thursday, the Fast Track Court wanted Ayittey, first accused person, to open her defence.