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11.07.2005 Crime & Punishment

Judge Orders for Edumadze

Judge Orders for Edumadze

AFTER NEARLY two years and three judges, the defamation action initiated against the Central Regional Minister Mr. Isaac Edumadze by Nana Kofi Coomson finally got off the ground when the new presiding judge Mr. Justice Gyamera Tawiah cleared the technical arguments surrounding the case last week and ordered that the defendant Mr. Edumadze who has always been represented by the Central regional secretary of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) Mr. Albert Essuman, should be present. Similar demand was made on the claimant Mr. Coomson though counsel representing him explained that he was attending court in Accra.

Lawyers for the plaintiff arguing against a counterclaim filed by Edumadze represented by Mr. Joseph Ebow Dawson, stating that their action could not hold because the long list of stories that had been listed as additional matters for which the Minister was making a counterclaim had already been known to them.

The reason for not making the claim earlier was difficult to understand, he argued adding that it was calculated to frustrate and delay the case. To illustrate his point, counsel recalled how another judge who had earlier sat on the same case, Mr. Justice B.O Tetteh, fixed a date himself for hearing which was communicated to the plaintiff in London. Apprised of this date plaintiff flew in from London at where he was studying to come down at great cost and inconvenience only to be told on the day that the judge himself was not available as he had gone on vacation and would continue from there to start his leave.

The presiding judge implored counsel to spare him the details of the case, but counsel stressed that it was really disturbing to the interest of justice if a judge could fix a date for hearing when he himself knew he would not be available to take the case, leaving the claimant who has come for justice frustrated and incurring great costs and incalculable inconvenience.

The legal battle commenced two years ago when a story filed by a correspondent of The Chronicle, Dominic Jale charged that the Minister had put up a 'billion cedi mansion' shortly after he assumed office as Regional Minister. When newsmen asked him to comment on the report the Minister made defamatory and libelous remarks about Kofi Coomson who was then studying at a the United Kingdom. The comments made on Peace FM were sent to claimant in UK who then asked his lawyers to sue. The matter actually began before the Supervising High Court judge Mr. Justice K.K. Acquaye who subsequently declined jurisdiction but not before asking Mr. Edumadze to do something about the case. He intimated that he is related to the Minister and rightfully made this known. Nevertheless he asked Edumadze to seek out the plaintiff within two days and try and settle out of court, something the Minister never did

Then the case went to Mr. B.O Tetteh where it stalled again until it was again went to Mr. Justice Boateng who is currently facing prosecution for a criminal offence which was widely publicized by The Daily Graphic. He had earlier declined to continue sitting on the case following heated protests from counsel for Edumadze that the case had not been properly and lawfully transferred as he argued that under the practice it is only the Chief Justice and not the Supervising High Court judge who can transfer a case from one court to another even when the courts are located in the same building as is the case in Cape Coast.

On his part, Mr. Ebow Dawson did not say much when asked to comment on the averments made by plaintiff's lawyer.

The judge then set this 14th instant as the day for the next hearing.