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General News of Thursday, 1 June 2006

Source: GNA

Appeal Court frees Casely-Hayford

Accra, June 1, GNA - The Court of Appeal (CA) on Thursday, freed Ralph Casely-Hayford, a businessman, after he had spent one year and one month out of a three-year jail sentence imposed on him by an Accra Fast Track High Court last year.

This followed the granting of his appeal filed at the CA on May 16, 2005 against his conviction and sentence by the Fast Track High Court on April 21 2005.

The three-member panel presided over by Nana Justice Owusu Ansah with Mr Justice Tweneboah Kodua and Mr Justice Kusi Appiah as members, in a unanimous decision, was of the view that there was the miscarriage of justice by the trial judge at the court below in convicting Casely-Hayford.

The CA held that the trial Court's evidence that Casely-Hayford allegedly received a 70-million bribe in September 1996, to influence a public officer in connection with the privatisation of the Ghana Rubber Estates Limited (GREL) could not be true, since the divestiture programme actually took place at an earlier date, that was, June 1996. The CA held that the learned trial judge erred in law for relying on what it termed "tainted evidence", to convict Casely-Hayford, and therefore stated that by so doing, the conviction by the Court below was not only unreasonable, but it was also harsh and excessive.

The CA, therefore, stated that in view of this, it had no other alternative than to grant the appeal, quash the rest of the sentence, and free Casely-Hayford, who had been languishing in jail at the Nsawam Medium Security Prisons since April 21, 2005.

After the court's verdict, family members, friends and sympathisers of Casely-Hayford took turns to hug and embrace him.

On November 15, 2001 Casely-Hayford and three others, Madam Hanny Sherry Ayittey, Treasurer of the 31st December Women's Movement; Mrs Sati Dorcas Ocran, Housewife, and Mr Emmanuel Amuzu Agbodo, Former Executive Secretary of the Divestiture Implementation Committee, were put before the Fast Track High Court on various criminal charges.

In the course of the trial, Mr Justice J. C. Amonoo-Monney, the trial judge, acquitted and discharged Mrs Ocran for lack of evidence. At the end of the trial on April 21, 2005, the Court ruled that the Prosecution had failed to prove its case beyond all reasonable doubts against Mrs Ayittey and Mr Agbodo, and, therefore, freed them. It, however, found Casely-Hayford guilty on one count of accepting bribe to influence a public officer in connection with the privatisation of GREL.

He was accordingly convicted and sentenced to three years' imprisonment with hard labour.

On May 16 last year, however, a six-member legal team led by Mr William Adumuah-Bossman filed an appeal application on his behalf, challenging his continued incarceration at the Nsawam Medium Security Prisons.

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