Appeals Court acquits and discharges Tsatsu Tsikata over 2008 prison sentence
The Court of Appeal has acquitted and discharged Mr Tsatsu Tsikata, former Chief Executive Officer of Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) on five year jail term handed down to him on June 18, 2008.
He was jailed by an Accra High Court.
The Court on Wednesday also set aside the judgment convicting Mr Tsikata for willfully causing financial loss to the state.
The Court upheld Mr Tsikata grounds of appeal pointing out that the decision of the High Court revoking a stay of proceedings pending an appeal.
The Judges of the Court of Appeal was presided by Justice S. O. Kayoke, Justice Kusi Appiah and Justice Sir Dennis Agyei.
Mr Tsikata was convicted on June 18, 2008 by Justice Henerrita Abban.
The Court of Appeal upheld that Mr Tsikata was denied fair trial when the High Court went ahead to deliver judgement in spite of an appeal.
Mr Tsikata challenged his conviction and imprisonment for willfully causing financial loss to the State.
The facts of the case were that on June 30, 2016; Mr Tsikata, who was jailed for willfully causing financial loss to the state, filed a case at the Court of Appeal challenging his sentence.
In his grounds of appeal, filed at the Court of Appeal Mr Tsikata averred that the verdict that led to his imprisonment was unreasonable and was not supported by evidence.
He said the trial judge erred in law in deciding that financial loss had been caused simply because payment of monies had been made by the GNPC.
The trial judge, he said, also erred in law in referring to extraneous matters that was not part of the record in her judgement.
“The trial judge claimed that accused was a member of the Provisional National Defence Council (PNDC) government, a matter which had no relevance to the case before her and on which no evidence had been led,” he contended.
It was also Mr Tsikata’s contention that the judge erred in law in pronouncing judgement when she had previously stated that she was awaiting the decision of the Supreme Court on the question of whether the International Finance Corporation (IFC) was amenable to the jurisdiction of the court of Ghana when the decision of the Supreme Court was to be pronounced on June 25, 2008.
“Trial judge showed manifest bias against the accused/appellant in the conduct of the trial and particularly, in proceeding to deliver judgement on the morning of June, 18, 2008.
“The June 18 had not been set for judgement in the case and no notice had been served on the accused to that effect,” Mr Tsikata said.
He also maintained that the judge erred in law in closing the case for the defence, while there was the pending issue of a witness for the defence being subpoenaed to testify.
He said the judge erred in law in proceeding with sentencing the appellant after the conviction simply on the basis that no appeal had been filed in the circumstance where counsel for the appellant was not present and the appellant clearly sought to remain on bail till an adjourned date.
Mr Tsikata was sentenced for causing financial loss to the state through a loan that the GNPC guaranteed for Valley Farms, a private cocoa-growing company.
He was found guilty on three counts of willfully causing financial loss of GH¢230,000 to the state and another count of misapplying public property.
His trial started in 2002 and travelled back and forth the court ladder until his sentence, which generated a lot of controversy.
Valley Farms contracted the loan from Caisse Francaise de Development in 1991 but defaulted in the payment and the GNPC, which acted as the guarantor, was compelled to pay it in 1996.
Mr Tsatsu Tsikata was unconditionally pardoned by former President John Agyekum Kufuor on his last day in office but he rejected the pardon and insisted that he would continue to pursue justice in the court of law.