NCA trial: Open your defense or forget about your surgery – Judge to accused

The Commercial Division of the Accra High Court presided over Justice Eric Kyei-Baffour has issued a stern warning to one of the five accused persons standing trial for the misappropriation of $4 NCA cash, George Dereck Oppong, for what the court describes as a “tactical attempt to occasion delay in the trial”.

Reindolf Twumasi-Ankrah, one of the defence lawyers informed the court that, Osafo Buabeng, counsel for George Derek Oppong has withdrawn his services to represent A5.

According to him, his legal relationship with A5 has ended and he no longer represents him and prayed on behalf of Mr Buabeng for leave of the court for his services to be withdrawn. He told the court that, the Director of Public Prosecution has been duly informed.

The court while ruling on the matter said, unlike civil proceedings where a lawyer is allowed on records if he intends to withdraw his services ought to have come a motion for the client he is representing for the court to grant, there is no such provision in the criminal procedure and the court cannot compel counsel to remain in the suit.

No tactical delay

But the court was however quick to caution that if it was a tactical approach to occasion any delay in the matter, the court would not entertain it.

“I must however caution if that is tactical approach to occasion any delay, that will not happen. This follows an intention made to the court Raindof Twumasi, A5 before the DPP in my chambers regarding some travelling arrangements of A5,” the court noted

He said, “the court considered and made an alternative arrangement which A5 and counsel were not happy about. If that is what has occasioned this move, then it will not happen.

That respect, A5 may take note to take steps for him to be represented in subsequent proceedings and the decision this morning to withdraw counsel may not have come as a shock, since counsel may have informed him before the court

Open defense now

Prior to adjourning the case to Feb 11, the court said “on the 4th of Feb, 2020, Twumasi-Ankrah in the stead of Osafo Buabeng the counsel for A5 and who has been conducting the case for A5 with the best of his ability and Tamakloe who have earned my respect for the show of purposity, Twumasi Ankrah and A5 together with the learned DPP approached me and the then A5 was billed for a surgery on 27 Feb, 2020, after which he will need one month to recoporate before he comes back to the jurisdiction.

“The court guided the needs to ensure the constitutional rights of the accused person reasonable time will not be endangered and gathered the fact that there has been an ordinate delay that has characterised this trial for almost 2 year, I thought it wise to exercise my discretion to allow A5 to give his evidence after Tetteh Tevie, before A3, (Nana Owusu Ensaw). This is to ensure he opens his defense before he goes so that after the surgery, he can have his peace of mind for full recovery and come back not also to fortify the ongoing trial, I thought this was a fair decision.

“But A5 claim before me that he needed Osafo Buabeng, even though Twumasi Ankrah was there, casting a slur on the competence of counsel and this decision did not sit well with A5.

The court said, “as of now it is evident that A5 has fired his counsel after a two-and-half period, the court cannot begrudge him, however, the court has a duty to ensure that the dismissal of A5 lawyer does not affect the trial. I stand my decision, if A5 intended to travel, then I will allow him and his new lawyer to open his defence on feb11, instead of Nana Owusu Ensaw. If on the 11th he was not prepared, then A3 will open give evidence and A5 will stay until after also A4.”

Case adjourned to Feb 11, 2020.


Source: Ghana/ Inusah

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