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General News of Tuesday, 15 July 2008

Source: GNA

Court upholds AG's motion in Tsakata case

Accra, July 15, GNA - An Accra Fast Track High Court (FTHC) presided over by Mr Justice K.A. Ofori-Atta on Tuesday upheld an application filed by the Attorney General, Mr Joe Ghartey, to stay proceedings pending the determination of an application filed at the Supreme Court (SC).

The Court said even though the suits filed by Tsatsu Tsikata before the SC and High Court were different they had one thing in common which had to do with the bias of Mr Justice Henrietta Abban towards him (Tsatsu).

The Court also said because of the gravity of the relief sought by the applicant, if the SC should decide otherwise it could lead to chaos and bring its jurisdiction into disrepute.

Tsikata, the incarcerated former Chief Executive of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), on June 28, 2008 filed a motion at FTHC on the allegation of bias against Mrs Justice Henrietta Abban to be heard and determined by way of a trail within a trial. In the said motion, Tsikata objected to the trial judge hearing his bail application because of her bias towards him.

He said the conduct of the trial judge was based on hatred and malice, which, he claimed, was an affront to fundamental human rights. Tsikata said the motion was also to disqualify the trial judge from hearing his bail on the grounds that there was real likelihood of bias on the part of Mrs Justice Abban.

He said the AG totally failed to separate the two suits, which were entirely two different applications before the courts.

The AG and Minister of Justice, in a motion asked the court to stay proceedings of the trial pending the determination of an application filed at the Supreme Court by Tsikata.

He averred that the applications of Tsikata before the Supreme Court and the Fast rack High Court were seeking for the same relief or had one thing in common, that is, to determine the bias of the trial judge.

Tsikata, former boss of GNPC was sentenced to five years' imprisonment for wilfully causing financial loss to the State and misapplying public property.

He was found guilty on three counts of causing financial loss to the State and one count of misapplying public property and jailed five years on each count. The sentences will run concurrently. Tsikata was charged with causing financial loss of GH¢ 230,000 (2.3 billion old Ghana cedis) to the State through a loan he, on behalf of GNPC, guaranteed for Valley Farms, a private company, and another count of misapplying public property.

He is said to have intentionally misapplied GH¢ 2,000 (20 million cedis) to acquire shares in Valley Farms.

Valley Farms contracted the loan from Caisse Centrale, now Agence Fran=E7aise de D=E9veloppement (ADF), but defaulted in the payment, compelling GNPC as the guarantors, to pay the loan in 1996.