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25.07.2005 Crime & Punishment

Tsikata ordered to open defence

GNA
Tsikata ordered to open  defence

Accra, July 25, GNA - An Accra Fast Track high Court on Monday dismissed an application filed by Tsatsu Tsikata, that the Defence was not served with copies of the necessary documents of the previous proceedings at the Supreme Court.

In addition, the Defence did not also receive copies of documents from the FTC informing them of the next appearing date.

The Court presided over by Mrs Justice Henrietta Abban, an Appeal Court Judge sitting on the case as a High Court Judge, therefore, ordered the accused to open his defence.

Tsatsu, Former Chief Executive of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), has been accused of wilfully causing financial loss to the State. No cost was awarded.

The Trial Judge, dismissing the motion, said after listening to the Prosecution and the Defence, there was no merit in the application. "I do not see how an oral order should be complied with", adding, "there is no motion before this Court". She, therefore, ordered Counsel to put his client in the dock.

The accused is also charged with four counts of causing financial loss and intentionally misapplying funds totalling 2.345 billion cedis, to the State through a loan he guaranteed on behalf of GNPC for Valley Farms Company, a private cocoa buying company.

The Company contracted the loan from Caise Francaise de Development, a French aid agency, in 1991, but defaulted in the payment, therefore, GNPC, which acted as the guarantor, paid it in 1996.

The offence, according to the Prosecution was contrary to Section 1(2) of the Public Property Protection Decree 1977 (SMCD140). Tsatsu had pleaded not guilty to the charges and the Court had granted him a 700 million-cedi self-recognisance bail.

When proceedings resumed, leading Counsel for the accused, Professor Emmanuel Victor Oware Dankwa told the Court that his client, Tsatsu, left office as the Chief Executive sometime in December 2000 and needed some vital documents, to enable him to go through the sequence of what had transpired.

According to the Defence Counsel, the accused applied to the Management of Valley Farms Company to furnish him with certain documents to assist him in the trial, but the Company replied that it could only make available such documents through an order by the Court, within the framework of justice.

"My Lord before my client goes into the dock, he needs these documents to enable him to refresh his memory, since we have come to a point where these documents are necessary", he said.

Prof. Dankwa, therefore, applied to the Court to summon the Managing Director of Merchant Bank or his representative and the Resident Director of Valley Farms Company to appear before it with the necessary documents on the next adjourned date.

Counsel said the necessary documents needed from the Company were the feasibility studies on the project; correspondents; records on discussions that took place at the Company; records of participation; guarantee agreement signed between Caise Francaise de Development and the accused.

Prof. Dankwa said other documents required from the Merchant Bank was the mandate that authorised the Bank to act on behalf of GNPC; correspondence in respect of specific Valley Farms transaction between GNPC and Merchant Bank; correspondence on draft Trust Deed and all the records of meetings attended.

Mr Osafo Sampong, Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and Mr Augustines Obuor, Assistant State Attorney represented the State. The DPP did not oppose the application and said "I had no objection, if it was to serve the interest of justice."

In March 2003, the FTC overruled the submission of no case filed by Tsatsu and ordered that he should open his defence. Tsatsu then filed an appeal at the Appeals Court in November 2004, which was dismissed on the grounds that it lacked merit and, therefore, ordered him to go back to the FTC to open his defence.

He filed an appeal to challenge the Appeals Court's ruling at the Supreme Court and this was also overruled.

The accused then proceeded to the Supreme Court for a review. Major Rowland S. Agbenato (rtd.) is a co-counsel for Tsatsu. The case was adjourned to August 8 for continuation.

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