Attorney-General wants review of ruling that removed trial judge in Opuni’s case

The Attorney-General (A-G) has filed a review application at the Supreme Court challenging the removal of Justice Clemence Honyenuga from the trial of Dr Stephen Opuni, former Chief Executive of COCOBOD and Seidu Agongo, Businessman.

A five-member panel of the Supreme Court on July 28 in a 3-2 majority ruled that Justice Honyenuga, the trial Judge should no longer preside over the case.

In that ruling, Justice Gabriel Pwamang, who wrote the lead judgment together with Justice A. M. Dordzie and Tanko Amadu agreed with Dr Opuni, while Justice Jones Dotse and Justice Lovelace Johnson disagreed.

However, a review application filed by the AG said the decision of the Court contained fundamental errors of law, which have manifestly resulted in miscarriage of justice.

The A-G said the trial Judge’s exclusion of the witness statements, if proven to be true, could not have been a basis for the court’s conclusion since the Judge applied the law as interpreted by the Supreme Court in various cases.

The A-G argued that the decision to restrain the Judge was unfair, in that the case would be entrusted to an entirely new judge, who had not had the benefits of the full trial, including assessing and observing the demeanour of witnesses.

The A-G therefore, wanted the decision of the apex court reviewed and set aside.

Dr Opuni prayed the apex to prohibit the judge from going on to hear the trial based on unfair comments made by Justice Honyenuga, a Justice of the Supreme, sitting as an additional High Court Judge.

Mr Samuel Codjoe, Counsel for Dr Opuni, argued that, they were asking for certiorari to quash part of the decision to dismiss our submission of no case and prohibition of the judge from going on to hear the case based on unfair comments.

He said it was also in the breach of natural justice, indicating that Dr Opuni was not given the opportunity to be heard when rejecting some exhibits and documents in the trial, thereby acting contrary to section 8 of the Evidence Act.

The Counsel said for section 8b to apply, the Court would have to hear the other party on objection to fulfil natural justice.

“The documents were not objected to and no one argued about it, when the prosecution were doing their case and we were not given enough time based on Article 19 and common law,” he said.

On being bias, he said, the statement given by a farmer as an evidence, which he said the lithovit fertilizer was good was rejected and another one which a farmer said lithovit was bad was accepted.

The Counsel said if the case before the Court was predetermined and prejudged, then there would be no fair hearing.

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 officers and contravention of the Public Procurement Act.

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

Source: GNA

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