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14.07.2005 Crime & Punishment

Court rescinds arrest for Tsatsu

By GNA

Accra, July 14, GNA - An Accra Fast Track High Court on Thursday varied its earlier decision to get Tsatsu Tsikata, Former Chief Executive of Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) arrested for failing to appear before it on July 11 2005.

Mrs Justice Henrietta Abban, the Trial Judge in the case in which Tsatsu is charged with causing financial loss to the State, rescinded a bench warrant she issued for his arrest.

Mrs Justice Abban, an Appeal Court Judge, sitting with additional responsibility as a High Court Judge, gave the ruling after listening to arguments raised by the leading counsel for the accused, Prof. Emmanuel Victor Oware Dankwah.

The Judge ruled that after considering Counsel's application, the Court had rescinded the warrant for the arrest of the accused person. She chipped in quickly to caution: "If he fails to appear on the next adjourned date, the Court would take the necessary action." Mrs Justice Abban also indicated that the Court was prepared to commence proceedings of the trial and, therefore, fixed Thursday, July 21 for hearing.

Prof Dankwah said the failure to attend Court was not a sign of "disrespect for the honourable Court or the person of her Lordship". Tsatsu is accused of causing financial loss of about 2.3 billion cedis to the State through a loan he, on behalf of the GNPC, guaranteed for Valley Farms, a private cocoa producing company.

The Company contracted the loan from Caisse Fran=E7aise de Developpement, a French company, in 1991 but defaulted in the payment. GNPC, which acted as a guarantor, therefore, paid it in 1996. Tsatsu is also charged with another count of intentionally misapplying public property, contrary to Section 1(2) of the Public Property Protection Decree 1977 (SMCD140).

He has denied the charges and the Ccourt, has admitted him to a 700 million-cedi self-recognisance bail.

Prof. Dankwah and Major Rowland S. Agbenato (rtd) are representing the accused, while Mr Osafo Sampong, Director of Public Prosecutions and Mr Augustines rpt Augustines Obour are for the State. Prof. Dankwah told the FTC that hearing notice was served on Tuesday last week, and that he and his colleague were not aware that the case was to commence on Tuesday, this week. He said Tsatsu and the Defence Team would have been in court if they knew the case would come on.

According to him, Tsatsu travelled outside the country without knowing that the case was to be heard on that day, and that it was not out of disregard for the Court.

Counsel averred: "we have never stayed away from the court when we knew or had information of a hearing date.

"My Lord in view of the foregoing, I plead to your Lordship to rescind the order that was imposed on Monday, July 11 for the arrest of the accused person."

When Major Agbenato took turn to argue on the matter, he accused the Court Clerk of not doing enough to furnish the Defence Team with the accurate adjourned date.

This degenerated into misunderstanding between Counsel and the Clerk. The Judge remarked: "The impression is that nobody knows who is saying the truth, the Counsel or the Clerk". She later gave the Clerk the floor to explain.

The Clerk said he, the Prosecution and the Defence Team discussed the next hearing date and subsequently fixed July 12 2005.

Mr Sampong, who opposed the Defence Team's application for the Court to rescind the warrant for arrest, stated: "Learned friend has to be reminded that their client is an accused and has to attend court." The DPP stated that he found the Defence Counsel's arguments quiet unacceptable, adding: "I think they have no regard for this Court, since to-date, they have not reached the accused."

On June 28, 2005, the Supreme Court dismissed an application for review filed by Tsatsu, and ordered him to go back to the lower court (FTC) to answer the charges preferred against him.

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