Court of Appeal grants abridgement of time to hear appeal

The Court of Appeal has granted an application for abridgment of time filed by the State against an interlocutory appeal file by lawyer for Seidu Agongo, the second accused to tender documents through a prosecution witness.

The court abridged the time after listening to both parties of the hearing date of the appeal from May 6 to April 3.

Mr Benson Nutsukpui, lawyer for the second accused who is Chief Executive Officer of Agricult Ghana, in the trial of Dr Stephen Opuni and another, filed the interlocutory appeal against an Accra High Court’s ruling on tendering of document through a prosecution witness.

The three-member panel chaired by Mr Justice P.K. Gyaesayor said the application was granted to enable the High Court hearing the trial to continue and not to stall the process until the determination of the interlocutory appeal.

On Monday, February 25, the court upheld an objection raised by the prosecution for documents to be tendered through its witness with Mr Nutsupui filing a motion for stay of proceedings, which was dismissed on March 18.

Mrs Stella Ohene Appiah, moving the application for the abridgement, said it was their prayer that the court bridge the hearing time of the appeal before them.

She said the date fixed by the Court’s Registrar was too long and even when the High Court has dismissed the application for stay of proceedings, because of the pending appeal before the Court of Appeal, it would literally mean “a stay the High Court trial through the back door.”

“The date should be abridged for the hearing of the appeal to take place, while the case can also continue at the High Court,” she said.

She told the Court that the Prosecution received an application in opposition to the motion for abridgement of time, which the accused indicated that it had nothing to do with the time for the hearing.

Mrs Appiah said in their statement of opposition, they also indicated that if the application was granted it would infringe on the right of their client to fair trial.

She said the early hearing of the case would only be fair to both parties.

Mr Nutsukpui said the assertion being painted by the prosecution that they were just delaying the Court proceedings was not right.

He told the court that initially, the Court Registrar fixed the month of April for the appeal to be heard and that was changed, “we had no indications the case will be fixed in May.”

He said the application before the Court was a calculated attempt to indicate that the accused person did not have any defence.

Mr. Nutsukpui said the Prosecution has not demonstrated any urgency for the time to be abridged and they had also not indicated the injustices the delay would cause.

“We maintained that no injustices will occasion the State, if the case is heard in May,” he added.

The Counsel said there was no evidence before the Court that there was some form of extra urgency for which their application should be granted, indicating that the Court should dismissed their application.

Dr Opuni and Mr Agongo are facing 27 charges, including defrauding by false pretences, wilfully causing financial loss to the state, money laundering, corruption by public officer and contravention of the Public Procurement Act.

They have both pleaded not guilty to the charges and are on a GH¢300,000.00 each self-recognisance bail.

The Court adjourned substantive trial to Friday, April 8 to hear the outcome of the application.

Source: GNA

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