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General News of Monday, 20 November 2000

Source: Ghanaian Chronicle

Fresh Row Over Ex-Minister's Paternity Test Case

A court order signed by the Chief Court Registrar, Mr. S. M. Kotei, instructing a former Minister of State, Ken Ampratwum and the mother of a child he allegedly fathered two years ago to go for a DNA test, became the subject of intense disagreement between the two parties last friday in the court room.

While the mother of the child, Ms. Janice Larbi-Siaw, slammed the order as unauthentic because it did not directly emanate from Justice Apaloo (who is currently on vacation), counsel for Ampratwum, Captain Effah Dartey, openly ordered his client to obey the ruling and turn up for the test. Ampratwum, who served in the erstwhile PNDC government, claimed in an affidavit that the child was dead and that the Janice was out to "blackmail" him and destroy his 'hard-won reputation'. The strange order has comes months after two similar ones given by Justice Apaloo were not obeyed by Mr.Ampratwum who previously claimed he could not raise the money for the test.

Subsequent orders were given but not honoured for various reasons. The last order, given on August 16, this year, for the test to be conducted August 18, was when not carried out and Ken Ampratwum, a senior Lodge member and President of the Ghana Architectural Association petitioned the Chief Justice over the handling of the case by the judge. Ms. Larbi-Siaw, brought the action for the court to order attend a DNA test to determine the paternity of the child so that he will be compelled to maintain the child.

The case that has been running for the past two years was finally moved from a family court by Ms. Larbi-Siaw to the High Court last year, when she filed for discontinuance. The former Minister has stoutly denied paternity alleging in his statement of defence that the lady was living with a boyfriend in the house at the time of the delivery'. The defendant, who had earlier failed to comply with an order for the DNA test admitted that he used to know the plaintiff but discovered that in less than two months after he had had contact with her, she was pregnant and described her claims as "fraudulent."

Mr. Ampratwum also averred that the midwife and nurses who helped the lady in her delivery told him "there was no possibility of the child surviving because it was born very frail with too much water and a whole foul mess."

Ms. Larbi-Siaw told the Chronicle she filed for a discontinuance of the case at the Family Tribunal for the High Court because she suspected one of the the Tribunal panel members. Continuing, she said, Ampratwum only made an appearance after the court had issued a subpoena and the police got involved after initially failing to respond to summons.

Both Mr. Ampratwum and his counsel, Capt. Nkrabeah Effah Dartey, had admitted in previous interviews with the Chronicle, the existence of a love affair between the former and Ms. Larbi-Siaw, but stressed that she had no case because she had taken her case all the way up to the First Lady, but nothing has come out. Whether a court registrar could take over the powers and functions of a high court judge and issue an order could not be explained.