Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Woyome trial - Judge takes swipe at prosecutors

July 4, 2012 (Front page) THE judge presiding over the GH¢51.2 million fraud case against a businessman, Alfred Agbesi Woyome, has taken a swipe at state prosecutors for failing to expedite the trial. Mr Justice John Ajet-Nasam of the Financial Division of the Fast Track High Court also Tuesday questioned the seriousness of the state to prosecute the matter. “I am not pleased; I am not happy; I am disappointed,” he said, after a Chief State Attorney, Mr Matthew Amponsah, had announced to the court that the state could not bring a witness to testify, as had been expected, as a result of circumstances beyond its control. Mr Amponsah had prayed for an adjournment and stated that the prosecution intended to call witnesses who were employees of various companies that were involved in the transaction which had led to the loss of GH¢51.2 million. Woyome is facing two counts of defrauding by false pretences and causing financial loss to the state. The accused, who has denied any wrongdoing, is alleged to have made fraudulent claims to the government, resulting in the payment of the GH¢51.2 million to him. The Deputy Head of the Legal Department at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning (MoFEP), Mrs Mangowa Ghanney, was the first prosecution witness. She was discharged after she had completed her evidence-in-chief and, subsequently, been cross-examined by the defence. According to Mr Amponsah, the witnesses had not been within the jurisdiction for a long time and that the prosecution had access to them on a short notice after the last adjourned date on June 14, 2012. The Chief State Attorney told the court that in the course of prosecution’s interaction with the potential witnesses, the witnesses drew prosecution’s attention to the existence of some valuable documents which, according to him, might be relevant in the course of the trial. He said the documents were not readily available because of the brief notice and for that reason the prosecution needed a short adjournment to prepare fully for the next hearing. One of the lawyers for Woyome, Alhaji Musah Ahmed, said the decision to adjourn was entirely within the discretion of the trial judge. Visibly disappointed, Mr Justice Ajet-Nasam reminded the prosecution that it had indicated during the last hearing that it did not know the defence would finish cross- examining Mrs Ghanney, otherwise it would have brought a witness along. He expressed great disappointment at the prosecution’s posture and wondered if the state was ready and willing to prosecute the case. He advised the prosecution to do its best for the country and recessed the case to July 12, 2012.

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