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29.07.2004 Crime & Punishment

Counsel Argue Over Car Gift to Ex-First Couple

By Chronicle

COUNSEL FOR Plaintiffs and Respondents in the defamation case against Multimedia Broadcasting (JOY FM) yesterday, engaged in legal arguments at the Accra Fast Track High Court when the latter sought to cross-examine Mr. Edward Annan, Managing Director of Masai Developers on a document that indicates that a car gift was made to former President Jerry Rawlings.

Counsel for plaintiff, Mr. Tony Lithur argued that the manner in which respondents' counsel, Mr. Charles Zwennes sought to examine his client, was unacceptable since the gift had nothing to do with the defamation case before the court.

The court, presided over by Justice (Mrs.) Avril Annin-Yeboah, asked Mr. Zwennes to go straight to the allegation of fraud on which he had intended to lead the evidence.

Despite the court's ruling, Mr. Zwennes went on with the cross-examination on the car gift, which he argued would determine the credibility or otherwise of the witness.

Mr. Annan, together with Masai Developers and OPM Holdings limited, had sued Multimedia Broadcasting, operators of Joy FM and two of its presenters, Messrs Komla Dumor and Sonny Decker, for defamatory statements they made on air four years ago.

According to the plaintiffs, the defamatory statements, which linked Mr. Annan and his companies to wrong doings at the Social Security and National Insurance Trust (SSNIT) on the "Super Morning Show" on Joy FM, led to the termination of contracts worth millions of dollars that they genuinely won.

Plaintiffs are claiming general damages including aggravated and exemplary damages for libel contained in the radio programme broadcast as well as other relieves that the court may decide in addition to costs.

Even though Mr. Annan admitted during cross-examination that the document that counsel for respondents was examining him on, bore the name of the former President as owner of a Buick Riviera car, with registration number GT8817L, he told the court that the gift was meant for the former first lady, Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings.

According to witness, it was on the instruction of Mrs. Rawlings that Massai transferred the ownership of the car into the name of her "sweetheart".

Mr. Annan said he knew the document bore the name of the former President on December 30, 1997, when the transfer was made but never lied to the court that the gift was meant for the former first lady as suggested by counsel.

"I said the truth that the present was to the first lady", Mr. Annan insisted.

He told the court that the former president was not his friend at the time he gave the present to his wife, who was his friend.

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