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10.11.2004 Crime & Punishment

Tsatsu files for review

By Chronicle
Tsatsu files for review
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Accra, Nov. 10, Chronicle -- Former Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) Chief Executive, Tsatsu Tsikata, has filed for a judicial review of the ruling against him by the highest court of the land.

Tsikata had been handed down a-4-1 decision by the Supreme Court to throw out his appeal against a High Court order to open his defense in charges of causing financial loss to the state.

The legal wizard, taking advantage of Rule 54 of the Supreme Court Rules 1996 (C.I.16), Tsikata noted that the decision of the Supreme Court on Monday November 8, was grave miscarriage of justice for which the court should be recomposed to take a decision on the issue.

In his motion for a review filed yesterday at the Supreme Court, the former GNPC boss held that the ruling delivered by the Supreme Court and the decision held by majority of the five-member panel, had given rise to various exceptional circumstances that warranted a review.

According to Tsikata, the majority decision did not take into consideration Section 11 of the Evidence Decree regarding the burden of proof in criminal matters.

Furthermore, it contradicted innocence deduced in criminal cases, a fundamental human right granted in Article 19(2)© of the constitution.

Additionally, Tsikata rebuffed the assertion by the Supreme Court in its majority decision on the failure of the trial judge to give reasons for her decision. The Supreme Court had stated in its ruling that, 'though regrettable,' the action of the trial judge “did not occasion a miscarriage of justice.” Tsikata held that the decision was out of law.

Conclusively, Tsikata argued that the majority decision failed to take into consideration principles of Article 19(5), Article 19(11), Article 19(2)(d) and Article 19(2)© of the constitution that dealt with the unconstitutionality of the offence leveled against him.

The five-member Supreme Court panel, presided over by Justice William Atuguba, arrived at a majority decision that enough evidence had been adduced against the former GNPC boss to warrant his being called upon to open his defence.

The rest of the panel members were Justices Stephen A. Brobbey, (Ms.) Sophia Akuffo, (Mrs.) Georgina Woode and (Prof.) Modibo Ocran.

Even though Justice Brobbey, currently the Chief Justice of the Republic of Gambia was not present at the court sitting, a letter was read, stating his association with the majority view.

The review is expected to have two more Supreme Court justices in addition to the original five who decided on the appeal.

Where Justice Brobbey could not make it, it is possible that another Supreme Court judge would be nominated to replace him on the panel.

Tsikata is standing trial at the Fast Track High Court on three counts of causing financial loss to the state and one count of intentionally misapplying public property by illegally guaranteeing a loan of 5.5 million French Francs from Caisse Francaise de Developpement, a French company, to Valley Farms, a limited liability company and further using a total amount of ¢20 million belonging to the company for the acquisition of shares in the French company, when he was in office.

Valley Farms subsequently defaulted in the payment of the loan. As a result, GNPC had to settle the debt, when it was requested to do so, the prosecution alleged.

Tsikata, who has pleaded not guilty to all the charges, is currently on a ¢700 million self-recognisance bail.

At the FTC, where Tsikata was expected to open his defence yesterday, the court, presided over by Justice (Mrs.) Henrietta Abban, an Appeal Court Judge sitting as an additional High Court judge, adjourned proceedings to November 24 in view of the application for review filed by the accused person on the decision of the Supreme Court.

The two-week adjournment was to provide adequate time for the accused person to prepare for his defence if he failed to obtain a stay of proceedings at a higher court.

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