The trial Judge presiding over the case of Dr. Stephen Kwabena Opuni and two others has expressed surprise at “sick” Opuni witness who “looks energetic two days ago” in court.
Samuel Torbi, a farmer at Assin Fosu, last Monday, May 16, gave his Evidence-in-Chief as the Second Defense Witness (DW2) for Dr. Opuni, the former Chief Executive Officer of COCOBOD and was expected to face further cross-examination from the prosecution.
In court on Wednesday, when the case was called, Samuel Torbi, was reported sick and has been admitted at the Emergency Ward at the Greater Accra Regional Hospital (Ridge).
“My Lord, my witness, Samuel Torbi DW2, who is in the box was expected to be in court to continue with the cross-examination by the prosecution,” Samuel Codjoe lead counsel for Opuni stated.
He added that, “Yesterday (Tuesday, May 16) evening, he (witness) sent through another person to bring an envelope containing a Ridge Hospital excuse duty form indicating that he is presently on admission at the Emergency Ward of the hospital.”
“I called him this morning (Wednesday) after I opened and read the content of the envelope which was addressed to me and he confirmed that presently, he is at the hospital and on admission at the said Emergency Ward.
“And he (witness) also informed me that, the doctors are saying that, they want to conduct further test on him and that they have assured him that after they finished this test, he will be released at the weekend.
“My Lord, I asked that, he get a medical report and send same to me so that I can show it to the court. But he informed me that the doctors say they don’t give patients medical records to the court unless the court request by a court order.
“I informed my learned friends at the bar this morning of this development and gave them photocopies of the Ridge Hospital excuse duties indicating that he is on admission,” counsel indicated to the court.
“In fact, he informed me what he is suffering from but I cannot disclose his ailment in open court because of confidentiality but I can inform the court in chambers. My Lord, this explains why he is not here today,” counsel concluded.
Counsel representing Seidu Agongo and Agricult Ghana Limited (A2 and A3) said, “We sighted the excuse duty from Ridge and have no reservations.”
Prosecution express surprise
Prosecution led by Mrs. Evelyn Keelson, a Chief State Attorney, for her part, expressed surprise at the sudden turn of events.
“My Lord, I was shown a copy of the excused duty of the witness Samuel Torbi by my learned friend this morning. Indeed my lord, I expressed my surprise at the sudden turn of events since the witness appeared to be in very good health just a couple of days ago.
“My Lord, I also asked my learned friend why the excuse duty does not indicate the ailment the witness is suffering from and he told me of issues of confidentiality.
“My Lord, we were ready to proceed with our cross-examination this morning but unfortunately the witness is not available,” the Chief State Attorney remarked.
Justice Clemence Honyenuga, the trail judge after listening to the parties also expressed suprise at the turn of events.
“I am equally suprise at the turn of events because the witness looks very energetic and did not look like anybody who could fall sick within two days. We were here on Monday.
“It seems witnesses for the first accused always fall sick during cross-examination. I remember, we had to adjourned this case for two weeks when DW1 was in the box. I am again equally suprise at the excuse duty form that no ailment has been stated on it. Before the court, nothing is hidden in terms of ailments or otherwise.
“This (Criminal) case has been going on for a whole four years without ending so it is very very unfortunate that, DW2 has to suffer the same fate as DW1,” the court.
The case was under the circumstances, adjourned to Monday, May 23.