Crime & Law

Court of Appeal sets timelines for Ato Forson, Jakpa & AG over submission of no case

A three-member panel of the Court of Appeal has set timelines to hear a request from Dr. Cassiel Ato Forson and Richard Jakpa, challenging the High Court’s order for them to open their defense in the ongoing ambulance case.

Lawyers of the accused persons are dissatisfied with the March 30, 2023 order of the High Court presided over by Justice Afia Serwah Asare-Botwe to open their Defence to the charges.

Justice Asare-Botwe, a Justice of the Court of Appeal sitting as an additional High Court upon the conclusion of the Prosecution’s case held that a prima facie evidence has been established against them for which reason they are to open their Defence.

Dr Ato Forson, the current minority leader in parliament, and businessman Richard Jakpa have been accused of willfully causing financial loss to the republic to the tune of 2.37 million euros through the purchase of ambulances.

They have pleaded not guilty and are standing trial.

Though the accused persons have started mounting their defense with Richard Jakpa, the third accused currently in the Witness box, the parties appeared at the Court of Appeal.

On Wednesday, June 19, 2024, the Court of Appeal panel of three presided over by Justice Poku Acheampong directed the Applicants (Dr. Ato Forson and Richard Jakpa) to file their written submissions within 7 days from June 19 and have the same served of the Attorney General’s Office.

The court further directed that the Attorney General also file his responding submissions within seven days after being served with the Applicant’s submissions.

The panel which also includes, Justice Kweku Tawiah Ackaah-Boafo and Justice Philip Bright Mensah, has subsequently fixed July 30, 2024, to deliver its decision.

Dr Ato Forson, the first accused was represented by his lawyers -Dr Abdul Bassit Aziz Bamba and Godwin Edudzi Tamekloe while Thaddeus Sory and Baffour Gyau Bonsu Ashia represented Richard Jakpa.

Joshua Sackey, a Senior State Attorney represented the Attorney General.

So far, the trial is ongoing with both the prosecution and Dr. Cassiel Ato Forson both closing their cases while businessman, Richard Jakpa is under cross-examination by the Prosecution.

The trial has taken a dramatic twist following, Richard Jakpa, third accused’s allegations against the Attorney General of meeting him at odd hours to get Dr Ato Forson implicated.

High Court ruling

On March 30, 2023, the High Court in  Accra ordered the former Deputy Minister of Finance, Dr. Casiel Ato Forson, and two others who are standing trial for allegedly causing financial loss to the state in an ambulance deal to answer to charges.

This was after the court held that prima facie evidence had been established against them by the Prosecution.

Ruling on a submission of no case to answer on March 30, 2022, after the prosecution had called four witnesses to close its case on February 14, Justice Afia Serwah Asare-Botwe said a prima facie case has been established against the accused persons.

Justice Asare-Botwe ruled that it was not in doubt that 50 ambulances were procured, and again all parties agreed that the vehicles were unfit for purpose and an amount of €2.37 million had been expended.

The court said though a submission was not to examine the evidence of the prosecution in totality, the court has found as a fact that a prima facie case has been established against Ato Forson and businessman Richard Dzakpa for willfully causing financial loss and intentionally misapplying public property.

The Justice of the Court of Appeal, who is presiding over the case as an additional High Court judge also ruled that, there was a case for Sylvester Anemana, a former Chief Director of the Minister of Health who is the second accused.

The court also said it is satisfied that the prosecution has demonstrated a prima facie on the contraventions of the Public Procurement Act against Mr Anemana.

The court after examining the elements of prima facie and the position of the law, said on the face of the records, the standard of proof for explanation is not as high on the accused as was on the prosecution to prove beyond reasonable doubt.

“I hold that once there was the need to show that there are ambulances that are not fit for purpose and not for value for money,” the accused persons are to respond to charges, the court held.

NB: Mr. Anemana has since been discharged after AG filed a nolle prosequi.

Source: Starr FM

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