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Opuni Case: Court overrules document tendering objection

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An Accra High Court on Monday, 18 February 2019, overruled an objection raised by the prosecution in the case involving Dr Stephen Opuni, the former CEO of COCOBOD and businessman Seidu Agongo, for documents to be tendered through its witness.

The court, presided over by Justice Clemence Honyenugah, a Court of Appeal judge, said upon hearing the objection against the tendering of the documents, he was of the opinion that the second prosecution witness had participated in most of the documents that were sought to be tendered.

According to him, under the circumstances, the documents would be allowed to be tendered through the prosecution witness as they were relevant.

Mr Benson Nutsukpui, the lawyer for Mr Seidu Agongo, the Chief Executive Officer of Agricult Ghana, in a cross-examination of Dr Alfred Arthur, a Scientist at the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG), sought to tender documents including emails, letters and test reports and their attachments through the witness but the prosecution objected to that.

Mrs Yvonne Attakora-Obuobisa, the Director of Public Prosecution said in her objection that the documents, which the Counsel for the accused sought to tender through the witness, were made up of letters, emails and test reports.

She said some of the documents were obviously not signed by the witness and they were not documents he had seen before and could not answer questions on them.

She, however, explained that the prosecution was not against the tendering of documents signed by the witness or emails sent to him or copied to him.

Mrs Attakora-Obuobisa said the objections raised were in relation to documents the witness did not author and have not seen before.

The prosecution said it had issues with a document titled: ‘Submission of final testing report on Cocoa Nti fertiliser’ signed by Dr Anim Kwarpong.

Mr Nutsukpui said these documents were coming from CRIG’s custody and, indeed, the witness identified that they were filed pursuant to the orders of the court by the lawyer for COCOBOD on behalf of the then-Executive Director, Dr Franklin Manu Amoah.

He said they have demonstrated that all the documents were relevant to the Cocoa Nti issue and the witness. According to him, each of the documents is related to the issue.

He said it was their submission that the witness should not be the author of an official document before same could be tendered through him.

The Counsel for the defence said it was opened to the witness to answer questions on official documents he knows about.

He said these were official documents filed at the court registry on the orders of the court, and explained that interestingly, the documents have the same heading running through.

He said these documents are a letter dated 26/11/2016 signed by Dr Anim Kwarpong with the heading: ‘Submission of final report on the testing of Cocoa Nti fertiliser’. Another letter dated 26/10/2016 signed by Mr Francis Oppong also had the same heading ‘Re-submission of final report on the testing of Cocoa Nti fertiliser’.

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

They have both pleaded not guilty to the charges and are each on a GHS300,000 self-recognisance bail.

The trial judge, who is sitting as an additional High Court judge, adjourned the trial to Monday, 25 February 2019, for continuation.

Source: GNA



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