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24.01.2006 General News

Court rejects Tsikata's application

By Ghanaian Times.

An Accra Fast Track High Court on Tuesday dismissed an application to subpoena the Country Representative of the International Finance Corporation (IFC) to give evidence in the case involving Tsatsu Tsikata, former Chief Executive of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation.

The court, presided over by Mrs Justice Henrietta Abban, in giving the ruling, said: "If the IFC are not prepared to waive their immunity, the court cannot compel them to do that."

She further explained that the court was not dealing with any action brought against the IFC in a civil matter.

Tsikata is standing trial on charges of causing financial loss to the state. He has been charged with three counts of causing financial loss of about ¢2.3 billion through a loan, he acting on behalf of the GNPC, guaranteed for Valley Farm Limited, a private Cocoa Producing Company, as well as court of misapplying public funds.

Valley Farm contracted the loan from Caisse Centrale, now Agence Francaise Du Development (ADF), but defaulted in the payment, compelling GNPC as the guarantors, to pay the loan in 1996.

Immediately the court dismissed the application, Professor Emmanuel Dankwa, counsel for Tsikata requested a new order to subpoena the IFC as an entity to give evidence.

"My Lord, I pray that you give an order, directed at IFC as an organization, to come and testify for the defence," he said. However the court dismissed it.

The Attorney General and Minister of Justice, J. Ayikoi Otoo, who led the prosecution, prayed the court to dismiss the application because the IFC's immunity covered not only the employees (officers) but also the corporation as well.

"The court should not make orders which in the end will be in vain," he advised.

Counsel for the IFC, Kizito Beyuo, siding with the prosecution argued that his client as an entity could not come to court to testify since they enjoyed immunity from the court.

"Even if the order is made, it is the same officer who will come to testify," he explained.

At this point, Prof. Dankwa cut in to say "we are not saying that oral testimony is not important to us. Beyond the documentary evidence, we want oral testimony as well”.

Mrs Justice Abban in dismissing the second application said: "Since I have already indicated that all aspects of the IFC enjoys immunity and they are not prepared to waive it, it will be improper to give such an order."

Then Professor Dankwa again applied for an order to subpoena, Managing Director of High Value Horticulture in the United Kingdom, Steve Caigor, to testify at the instance of the accused.

He said the defence had tried to establish contact with the intended witness but their efforts had so far proved fruitless.

Prof. Dankwa then asked for time to enable defence to contact the witness and the case was adjourned to February 14.