GSB expert gives evidence in Exopa’s drugs trial

Fast Track High Court in Accra, on Wednesday allowed an official of the Ghana Standards Board (GSB) to give evidence in the trial of Sima Ibrahim, Chief Executive Officer of Exopa Modelling Agency, who is standing trial for drug charges, despite objections by the defence.

Mr James Agalga, lawyer of Ibrahim, raised objections to the invitation extended to an expert from GSB to throw light on the methods used in conducting tests on the alleged cocaine found on Sima.

Mr Agalga told the Fast Track High Court that under the evidence decree, the state could recall witness in the case when it had closed it case.

Defence Counsel said, however, he had not come across the situation where a new witness had been called to testify after the prosecution had closed its case.

He contended that the prosecution’s intent of calling a new witness was aimed at “damage control”.

According to the lawyer, it would be unfair to the accused for the state to embark on “damage control” pointing out that the entire process of calling a witness would be prejudicial to the trial.

Mr Agalga pointed out to the court that the witness who was to be called was comfortably seated in the court room.

“I am saying this so that the court would know the kind of weight it would put on his evidence.”

This emerged after Mr George Kwadwo Ofori, Principal State Attorney, had prayed the court to allow them to produce an expert from the Ghana Standards Board (GSB) to throw more light on the methods used in conducting test on the cocaine found on Sima.
The court presided over by Mr Justice Charles Quist, however, ruled that to ensure justice and fair play, it would allow the GSB expert to mount the witness box.

The court was, therefore, to lead the GSB expert in evidence after which both the defence and prosecution would cross-examine him.

Mr J.K. Ataki, a Chief Scientific Officer, was the expert who endorsed the forensic results of the alleged cocaine found on Sima.

Answering questions from the court, Mr Ataki disagreed with Professor Henry Augustine Brown-Acquaye, a drug analyst expert, that the method used by the GSB was scientifically inadequate.

Mr Ataki, who was described as the court’s witness, also said irrespective of whatever method was used in conducting the test on the drugs the results would be the same.

He confirmed that the drugs had 72.3 per cent purity level.

Mr Ataki told the court that following the results of the field test done on the alleged substance, the drugs were forwarded to GSB for analytical examination.

He cited the Thin Layer Chromatography as one of the methods used by the GSB.

Mr Ataki, head of the GSB Forensic Laboratory, said the Board had always met international standards and every two years they were assessed by United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

Prof. Brown-Acquaye had earlier challenged the methods used by the GSB, saying they were scientifically inadequate.

Continuing with his cross-examination, Prof. Brown-Acqauye admitted that when the field test on the drugs was being conducted, he was not present.

Earlier John Avorka, a security man in Sima’s house, who is also a defence witness, narrated to the court how a group of men including Policemen in uniform, invaded the house.

Avorka said he was assaulted by the Policemen when he delayed in opening the gate to Sima’s house.

The defence witness pointed that out that he did not know anything about the yams that Sima bought.

Sima, who has been charged with attempting to export narcotic drugs and possessing narcotic drugs without authority, has denied the charges and he is on remand.

The prosecution’s case is that the accused allegedly concealed five kilograms of drugs suspected to be cocaine in some tubers of yam while travelling to Frankfurt, Germany, on September 7, last year.

While going through departure formalities, officials of NACOB opened his luggage and found the tubers of yam sliced and joined.

When the yams were opened, the drugs were found concealed in them.

The prosecution said Sima claimed ownership of the drugs claiming he was asked to give them to someone in Germany for a fee of 3,200 dollars.

The case has been adjourned to October 8.

Source: GNA

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