Attempt to halt Opuni trial fails

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An Accra High Court has dismissed an application seeking to put on hold the trial of former Chief Executive Officer of Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Dr. Stephen Opuni.

The application filed by Benson Nutsukpui, counsel for Seidu Agongo, who has been charged along with the former COCOBOD boss for causing financial loss to the state, was praying the court to stay its proceedings pending the determination of an interlocutory appeal at the Court of Appeal.

The appeal is to challenge the decision of the trial judge, Justice Clemence Honyenugah, to reject a document the lawyer intended to tender in evidence through the state’s second witness on February 25, 2019.

The document is a report by an ad hoc committee set up by the Cocoa Research Institute Ghana (CRIG) to look into some missing documents relating to the Lithovit fertilizer which is at the centre of the trial.

Moving his application to stay proceedings pending the determination of the interlocutory appeal, Mr. Nutsukpui stated that the second prosecution witness, Dr. Alfred Arthur, was specific in his responses saying Lithovit liquid fertilizer was unknown to CRIG.

According to him, what he sought to do was to confront the witness with official documentary evidence coming from the official custody of CRIG.

He said the judge’s ruling which rejected the tendering of the document, by its nature, deprives the accused persons of their constitutional right of a fair trial as guaranteed by Article 19 of the 1992 Constitution.

Mr. Nutsukpui argued that the judge’s ruling that the lawyer should have asked the court to subpoena the authors of the report closes the door on the accused persons’ right to submission of no case.

This, he said, suggests that even before the prosecution closes its case, the accused persons have opened their case and subpoenaed a witness.

The second exceptional circumstance under which the proceedings ought to be stayed according to the lawyer is that the court did not follow the binding decision of Yeboah vrs Amofa reported in 1997/98 – one Ghana Report which the judge based his ruling on.

Again, Mr. Nutsukpui argued that the court was influenced by the fact that it did not set up the CRIG committee but that does not take away the character of the document as an official document.

Although Samuel Codjoe, counsel for Dr. Opuni, did not file any application, he told the court that he associates himself with Mr. Nutsukpui’s submissions.

Opposition

The state represented by Stella Ohene Appiah opposed the application to stay proceedings, labelling it as a calculated attempt by the lawyer to delay the proceedings.

She told the court that the grant of stay of proceedings pending appeal is discretionary and is not of right just because an appeal has been filed.

She added that in the unlikely event that the appeal succeeds, the applicants will not suffer any damages if the case does not stay.

Dismissal

The trial judge, Justice Clemence Honyenugah, a Court of Appeal judge, dismissed the application saying a notice of appeal is not enough grounds to stay proceedings.

He said staying the proceedings would only occasion further delays of the proceedings as the PW2 has been in the box for almost five months.

The hearing continues on March 27, 2019.

 

Source: dailyguidenetwork.com

 

 

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