Ambulance trial: AG objects to admissibility of recording for cross-examination

Ambulance trial: AG objects to admissibility of recording for cross-examination

The High Court in Accra is expected to on Thursday, June 13 decide on whether to admit into evidence or not, an audio recording of a conversation between Godfred Yeboah Dame and the third accused person in the ongoing ambulance case, Richard Jakpa.

This is after lawyers for minority leader, Dr. Cassiel Ato Forson submitted the audio in an attempt to cross-examine Richard Jakpa on his claims that the Attorney General has been engaging him at odd hours to implicate Ato Forson.

SIMILARITY OF AUDIO

The audio, which was served on all parties prior to the sitting except for lawyers for Richard Jakpa was played in open court. Justice Afia Serwah Asare-Botwe asked for the tape to be played to ‘verify if what was served is the same as the one before the court and if the audio is admissible’

The audio was confirmed by the prosecution to be the one served on them, as well as the one tendered for the mistrial application, which was dismissed by the court.

Channel One News notes that the tape was substantially similar to the one aired by the National Democratic Congress (NDC) at its recent press conference on the matter.

OBJECTION BY PROSECUTION

The prosecution, however, objected to the admissibility of the audio in evidence. Arguing for the state, the director of public prosecution, Yvonne Attakora-Obuobisa noted, that even though the tape was earlier admitted by the same court to dispose off the mistrial application, it does not in the current circumstance pose any relevance to the main trial.

Ms. Attakora-Obuobisa indicated that the tape was only admitted then because it was relevant for the court to determine if the Attorney General sought to ask Richard Jakpa to incriminate Dr. Cassiel Ato Forson. She reminded the court that ‘negligible weight’ was even put on it.

She then argued that in the current instance and in accordance with section 51 of the evidence ACT, the tape is ‘extremely irrelevant”.

According to her, the recording discusses matters of the issuance of the letters of credit and those issues, in her opinion, are already before the court through the cross-examination of the witnesses of Ato Forson like Alex Mould and Seth Terkper, as well as evidence adduced by prosecution witnesses.

She was of the firm view that ‘the recording is of no significance whatsoever in arriving at any decision in respect of the actions of the accused person (Ato Forson) that has resulted in financial loss or the intentional misapplication of public funds’

To make the audio admissible, Yvonne Attakora Obuobisa also made the point that the lawyers of Ato Forson need to prove that the recording does not breach any provisions of the constitution. She cites Article 18(2) of the 1992 Constitution, which guarantees the right to privacy.

The Director of Public Prosecution asserts that the audio recording does not meet the exception of recording without consent to prevent a crime.

To her, the lawyers of Dr. Cassiel Ato Forson have not been able to prove any crime the Attorney General was committing or about to commit for which the recording ought to be done without the consent of the Attorney General.

RESPONSE BY LAWYERS OF ATO FORSON

Dr. Abdul Bassit Aziz Bamba who led the lawyers for the minority leader, however, described the objection as ‘frivolous, untenable and be overruled’. He argues that the content of the recording is relevant as it relates to discussions on exhibits already before the court that deals with the supply agreement for the ambulances as well as the authorisation.

He posits further that the tape is relevant as to when the Letters of Credit should have been established and whether any financial loss at all has been caused to the state.

He makes reference to the content of the tape stating that it can be heard on the tape, that Dr. Sylvester Anemana, who was the second accused in the matter, until a Nolle Prosequi was entered with respect to his case, was the one who authorised the Letters of Credit and not Dr. Ato Forson.

Dr. Bassit Bamba also impressed upon the court to determine the tape admissible on grounds that the ‘same reasons and more’ for which the court assigned relevance to the tape in considering their application for mistrial exists in the current circumstance.

Lawyers of Ato Forson also asked the court to admit the audio into evidence as the engagement is between Richard Jakpa and the Attorney General who is a public officer and expected to carry out his mandate in good faith.

It is the view of the lawyers that the Attorney General was seeking to subvert the right of their client to fair trial.

Dr. Bassit Bamba also disagreed with the prosecution’s view, that the recording without the consent of the Attorney General breaches Godfred Dame’s right to privacy.

He contends that the actions of the Attorney General in attempting to push his theory of the case on Richard Jakpa constitute interference with the administration of justice and amounts to contempt of court.

He argues further that the Attorney General’s action relates to a crime of willful suppression contrary to the dictates of sections 239 and 246 of the Criminal and offences ACT, 29.

ADJOURNMENT

Justice Afia Serwah Asare-Botwe after hearing the arguments of the two sides adjourned the case to Thursday to deliver a ruling on the admissibility of the audio.

Source: Citinewsroom.com

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