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General News of Thursday, 21 November 2002


Prosecution witness lied -Defence

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Proceedings at an Accra Fast Track Court (FTC) hearing the Ghana Rubber Estates Limited (GREL) divestiture case ended abruptly on Wednesday when the defence asked for adjournment to enable him to confront prosecution witness with his statement to the police.

Mr Justice J C Amonoo-Monney, the trial judge, obliged, and consequently adjourned sitting to Tuesday, 26 November.

It all happened when the witness disagreed with a suggestion by defence counsel that his statement to the police contradicted the evidence he had given in court.

Mr D .O Lamptey, counsel for Hanny Sherry Ayittey, treasurer of the 31st December Women's Movement (DWM), one of the four accused persons in the trial, had suggested to Dr. Albert Owusu-Barnafo, the third prosecution witness, during cross-examination, that he allegedly paid an amount of 250,000 dollars to his client in the presence of others.

Counsel further suggested to witness that the money was not paid to his client at the GIHOC Distilleries office of his client as alleged, but rather at the GIHOC Pharmaceuticals. Counsel, therefore, suggested to witness that the evidence he had given in court was false.

In a quick response Dr. Owusu-Barnafo told the court that his evidence in court was correct, and that he alone paid the money to Ayittey. Witness stated, therefore, that he neither recalled paying the money at the GIHOC Pharmaceuticals, nor doing the payment in the presence of others.

It was counsel's humble submission, therefore, that the court exercised its discretion on the matter by making an order that witness's statement to the police was made available to the court.

Replying, Mr Osafo Sampong, Director of Public Prosecutions said counsel had missed the point, and that his application should have been made rather in a trial by indictment.

Commenting on the matter, Mr Justice Amonoo-Monney pointed out that the court could only make orders if and only when they were enforceable, adding that those orders must not only be supported legally, but that they should not be capricious.

He, therefore, urged defence counsel to stick to the rules.

At this juncture, Mr Johnny Quarshie-Idun, leading counsel for Ayittey asked for an adjournment, to enable the defence to produce a copy of witness's statement and confront him on it at the court's next sitting.

Ayittey, Emmanuel Amuzu Agbodo, former Executive Secretary of the Divestiture Implementation Committee, Ralph Casely-Hayford, businessman and Sati Dorcas Ocran, housewife, are standing trial for their alleged involvement in bribery and corruption practices in connection with the privatisation of GREL.

They have all pleaded not guilty to their various charges, and each of them is on a self-recognisance bail.

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