Saturday, January 16, 2010 (Page 15)
THE trial of two lawyers who have been accused of forgery and defrauding by false pretence has been scheduled to start on January 27, 2010.
The date was fixed after the Accra Circuit Court gave reasons for refusing an application to stay proceedings in the matter.
The lawyers, Joseph Kwame Owusu Asamani and Ekow Amua-Sekyi, are alleged to have forged a High Court judgement to deprive the complainant, Mr Samuel Etroo, who was once a client of Amua-Sekyi’s, of his mining concession.
Counsel for the two had filed an application for stay of proceedings in the trial on the grounds that cases between parties in the case were pending in different high courts and for that reason it would be prudent for the court to stay proceedings until those matters were determined.
However, the court, presided over by Mrs Justice Adwoa Bartels, dismissed the application on the grounds that parties in the cited cases were different from the parties in her court.
Giving reasons for her decision, the trial judge stated that she had carefully studied the Criminal Procedure Code and other authorities and nowhere was it stated that criminal actions must be stayed for civil actions to proceed.
She said what the applicants sought the court to do was alien to the country's criminal jurisprudence.
According to the court, it was only the Attorney-General who had power to discontinue criminal matters against accused persons and for that reason the court deemed it fit to refuse the application for stay of proceedings.
The two lawyers were arraigned before the court on December 18, 2009 and were granted bail in the sum of GH¢80,000 with two sureties each to be justified.
They pleaded not guilty to eight counts of conspiracy, forgery of judicial document and uttering forged document.
The two were arraigned at a time the Human Rights Division of the High Court had set January 22, 2010 to determine whether or not Mr Justice D.E.K. Daketsey, a circuit court judge, could continue sitting on the case against the two lawyers.
The lawyers had sought an interlocutory order restraining the circuit court judge from hearing the case until the final determination of the application currently before the Human Rights Court on the grounds that the judge was biased against them.
However, the Chief Justice assigned Mrs Cudjoe to the case, resulting in the arraignment of the two lawyers on December 18, 2009.
In the substantive matter, the two are alleged to have forged the judgement of a High Court judge, Mr Justice Ofori-Atta, compelling Mr Howard Eric Ewen, the Managing Director of Keegan Resources, to issue a cheque for $850,000 to Asamani.
When Asamani received the money, Amua-Sekyi signed as witness, prompting the complainant in the case, Mr Etroo, to lodge a complaint with the police.