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General News of Wednesday, 27 January 1999

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Court orders Eben Quarcoo to open his defence

Accra (Greater Accra) 27 Jan '99

An Accra circuit court today ruled that the prosecution has led evidence to ground the charge against Eben Quarcoo, former editor of the " Free Press" being tried for publishing libellous material against the First Lady, Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings.

The court, presided over by Mr Victor Ofoe, therefore, ordered Quarcoo to open his defence on February nine.

The court gave the order when it overruled a submission of "no case" made by Mr Akoto Ampaw, attorney for Quarcoo.

Mr Ampaw had submitted that " no prima facie" case has been established against his client and therefore urged the court to acquit and discharge him.

Mr Martin Amidu, Deputy Attorney-General, had objected and said the prosecution has through the evidence of its four witnesses laid the grounds for criminal libel against Quarcoo.

Quarcoo, who has pleaded not guilty and is on a 10 million- cedi bail, is alleged to have published that Nana Konadu sent gold and narcotics. on unannounced trips outside.

Giving reasons for the ruling, Mr Ofoe said he did not know the type of evidence the defence wanted the prosecution to produce to establish that a case has been made against Quarcoo.

The court said the defence does not deny that there was a publication made by Quarcoo and which the prosecution is alleging had defamed the complainant.

The court summarised the evidence of the prosecution witnesses as well as the cross-examination by defence counsel and said the contention of the defence was that the publication was not libellous.

Mr Ofoe said if the defence wanted to give a different interpretation to the publication contrary to what the prosecution has established, it is up to Quarcoo to open his defence and tell the court the meaning of the alleged defamatory publication.