Chief State Attorney, Evelyn Keelson, shocked many in court after demanding detailed medical records of a witness in the trial of former COCOBOD boss and two others.
The first defence witness, Mr. Charles Tetteh Dodoo, had presented a two-week excuse duty endorsed by a specialist at the 37 Military Hospital to the court on Monday.
This was to enable the former Director of Finance at COCOBOD to take time and treat a problem with his spine.
But the state prosecutor asserted that, an excuse duty stating just the duration and ailment of the witness was not convincing enough.
She wished the medical doctor that signed the notice had provided further and better particulars of the medical condition of the witness to buttress why he should be excused for some days.
Evelyn Keelson told the open court that, the information provided on the excuse duty by the specialist was “scanty”.
Mr. Dodoo has been testifying on behalf of former COCOBOD Chief Executive Dr. Stephen Opuni who is being tried together with businessman Seidu Agongo.
The witness was to continue his cross-examination led by counsel for Seidu Agongo on Monday, but the lead counsel for Dr. Opuni informed the court that the witness would not be available for a couple of days on health grounds.
“I must add that in the course of the trial, he has been complaining of not being well. He said he has a spinal problem,” he said and handed to the court the excuse duty notice that was sent to him by the witness.
When asked if the witness was on admission, the lawyer said no but told the court “he said he will be going for physiotherapy”.
Obviously not happy about the turn of events, Chief State Attorney Evelyn Keelson said although the prosecution “have no difficulty”, she observed “except that the excuse duty only states the ailment and the duration…scanty [information]”
Her comments drew some hot exchanges between her and lawyer Samuel Codjoe, albeit brief.
For lawyer Codjoe, Evelyn Keelson was insinuating that he is being “dishonest” with the court because he didn’t add the full medical records of the witness, which would have explained his health condition better.
But Madam Keelson denied suggesting that Mr. Codjoe was being dishonest.
According to her, she was only pointing out the insufficient information on the face of the excuse duty notice because the doctors only ticked two weeks and circled lumbar disorder on the sheet.
Meanwhile, Justice Clemence Jackson Honyenuga, the trial judge has directed the sick witness to report to court irrespective of his health condition in the next adjourned date.
“By court, it is very unfortunate that DW1 is unwell and therefore the court cannot continue today. Indeed the excuse duty is very scanty and I must say that it is trite that an expert evidence is not binding on the court but I will give DW1 the benefit of doubt. As I stated in one of my rulings, I will not tolerate any delays in a four year old criminal trial. In the next adjourned date if DW1 does not appear, this court will take further steps to make sure that this case proceeds.
“So the two weeks starts from the Thursday 25th March. So consequently this case stands adjourned to the 8th April, 2022 at 10am for continuation.”
The former COCOBOD Chief Executive, Dr. Stephen Opuni and businessman Seidu Agongo as well as Agricult Ghana Limited, are facing over 25 charges, including defrauding by false pretences, willfully causing financial loss to the state, corruption by public officers and contravention of the Public Procurement Act.
They have pleaded not guilty to the charges and are on a GH¢300,000.00 self-recognizance bail each.