There is a growing tension between the Attorney-General’s (A-G’s) Department and the office of the Chief Justice over the long delay in the listing of the “dirty” financial loss case regarding the sale of Ghana Airways and the operations of Ghana International Airline (GIA) by officials of the Kufuor administration, for hearing at the Supreme Court.
There is the perception within the corridors of power that the Chief Justice, Georgina Wood, is literately sitting on an aspect of the case which was filed at the Supreme Court for constitutional interpretation by two out of the five suspects, Dr. Richard Anane and Dr. Anthony Akoto Osei, who served in the Kufuor regime as ex-Ministers of Transport and Finance and Economic Planning, respectively.
The case at the Supreme Court was filed in October 2010, but, till date, Mrs. Georgina Wood is yet to empanel judges to decide on the merit of the case, to enable the substantive trial at the Fast Track High Court to resume.
Insiders at the A-G’s Department tells The Herald that the contention of the two ex-ministers are that the prosecution team should furnish them with all documents with respect to the criminal prosecution, a request rejected by the prosecutors and affirmed by the trial court.
This led to the ex-ministers filing for a constitutional interpretation at the Supreme Court as to whether the trial court was right in rejecting their demand for the documents; however, over a year has passed and the case is still gathering dust.
This, The Herald is informed, has led to a feeling that a subtle effort is at play within the judiciary to bury the case.
Asked what the Attorney-General was doing about the issue, The Herald was told that a search is being conducted to know the true status of the case and the possible date that it would be called for hearing at the Supreme Court.
This paper was further informed that if it is discovered that the lawyers of the ex-ministers have not filed the necessary documents, the prosecution would be compelled to have the substantive trial resume in earnest.
Lawyers for Dr. Richard Anane and Dr. Anthony Akoto Osei, filed the appeal against the Financial Division of the Fast Track High Court, which on July 16, 2010 refused to refer the matter to the Supreme Court on the grounds that the issues raised by the accused persons did not border on the Constitution.
Those charged alongside the two are Mr. Kwadwo Mpiani, a former Chief of Staff and Minister for Presidential Affairs; Mr. Sammy Crabbe, a former Greater Accra Regional Chairman of the New Patriotic Party (NPP), and Prof. George Gyan-Baffour, a former Deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Planning.
They variously face 22 counts of causing financial loss to the state, defrauding by false pretences, conspiracy to deceive public officers, deceit of public officer, misappropriation of public funds, opening an offshore account without authorisation from the Bank of Ghana (BoG), conspiracy to commit stealing and stealing.
They have pleaded not guilty to the charges and the court, presided over by Mr. Justice Bright Mensah, has granted them self-recognisance bail.
At the court’s sitting in Accra sometime in October 2010, counsel for Dr. Anane, Dr. Jacob Acquah-Sampson, told the court that the two accused persons had filed an appeal against the court’s decision.
He, therefore, prayed the court to stay proceedings to enable the accused persons to pursue their appeal at the Court of Appeal.
Opposing counsel’s application, the Director of Public Prosecutions, Ms Gertrude Aikins, prayed the court to hear the case because the accused persons had failed to state the specific date on which the appeal would be heard.
She said the accused persons could always go to the higher court to quash any decision taken by the lower court.
The trial judge, Mr. Justice Bright Mensah, however, said the court’s attention had been drawn to the appeal and for that reason the court would adjourn the case to November 1, 2010.
The accused persons had requested for relevant documents to aid their defence, under Article 19 (2e) of the 1992 Constitution, which states that “a person charged with criminal offence shall be given adequate time and facilities for the preparation of his defence”.
But the State opposed the application on the grounds that sections 163 and 181 of the Criminal Procedure Code of 1960 (Act 30) do not allow accused persons who are standing trial summarily to have access to such documents before they are tendered in evidence as exhibits.
Giving its ruling on July 16, 2010, the court upheld the state’s submissions and accordingly ordered the accused persons to present themselves for trial.