A former Commissioner for CHRAJ, Dr. Emile Short, has predicted that the Attorney-General would not succeed in her plan to appeal a High Court verdict that cleared Businessman Alfred Agbesi Woyome of wrongdoing in the GHC51.2 million judgement debt case.
Mr Woyome was acquitted and discharged on two counts of defrauding by false pretence and causing financial loss to the state, with the court noting that the State failed to prove he fraudulently obtained GHC51.2 million.
The Attorney-General (A-G) and Minister of Justice, Mrs Marietta Brew Appiah-Opon, has, however, vowed to appeal the verdict.
‘We disagree completely with the judgement of the court,’ she said in an interview, adding: ‘We are applying for a copy of the judgement, study it carefully and appeal accordingly.’
Commenting on the development on Accra-based Citi FM Friday, Dr Short noted that an appeal was dead on arrival.
He made reference to comments by the presiding Judge, Mr Justice John Ajet-Nasam, to the effect that the prosecution had failed to call former Attorney-General, Mrs Betty Mould Iddrisu, Rex Magnus Danquah, Ebo Barton Odro, Paul Asimenu, Samuel Nerquaye-Tetteh and others who all had given written opinion that Woyome was entitled to the claim.
The judge had also accused the State of failing to put up a defence when Woyome went to the Commercial Court and, therefore, found it absurd for the state to turn around and accuse Woyome of causing financial loss.
The Judge queried, “where lies the charge of causing financial loss when the state failed to fight the case on its merit at the Commercial Court?”
According to Dr Short, the comments made by the judge were ‘quite prejudicial to the image of the Attorney-General’s office’.
He said ‘it would appear that the judge himself was on the view that the prosecution did not do a good case’
Dr Short said: ‘Based on what the judge has said, it is very unlikely that an appeal will succeed because in an appeal, you cannot introduce new evidence.
‘The appeals court would be bound by the evidence that is on record already and so if material witnesses who should have been called were not called, then the appeals court will not have the opportunity to hear those material witnesses.
‘The appeals court will only have to rely on the evidence that was adduced for the crime, and so the chances of success, in my view, are quite remote.’
Dr Short went on to add that the country must decouple the Attorney-General’s office from the Ministry of Justice.
‘So long as we have the current situation, it is almost impossible to really expect the Attorney-General to be able to prosecute corruption effectively. He or she will be in a dilemma,” he said.
The former CHRAJ boss added that the woyome case had emphasised the importance of getting an independent prosecutor who will deal with crime, especially corruption.
Dr Short said: ‘When I talk about an independent prosecutor, I mean not someone who’s been appointed by President in consultation with the Council of State, but somebody who will be appointed with the participation of civil society and bi-partisan parliament and consultation with civil society and bi-partisan parliament, so that we can get somebody who is credible, who is independent-minded and somebody who will not be susceptible to any influence or control of the executive.’
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