General News of Thursday, 31 January 2019
The High Court last Tuesday dismissed an objection raised by defence lawyers in the $4 million National Communication Authority (NCA) case concerning the admittance of the fifth prosecution witness of the State.
Defence lawyers raised opposition over moves by the prosecution to lead the witness, Mr Duncan Opare, to testify for the state.
According to the defence team, details, as captured on the witness’ statement, showed that he would pose a threat to the right of the accused persons to a fair trial if he was allowed to testify.
They argued further that the witness was only in court to clean up the records for the prosecution.
They further submitted that investigators had not interrogated Mr Opare adding that Mr Opare’s witness statement was an attempt by state prosecutors to disavow evidence given by previous witnesses, who have already appeared before the court.
Opposing the defence team’s submissions, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Mrs Yvonne Attakorah-Obuobisa, said the accused persons had been given ample time to prepare their defence as well as afforded the opportunity to cross examine previous witnesses.
She said the witness statement, dated January 25, 2019, had been made available to the defence team and further indicated that disclosures could continue till final judgement.
“We followed up with calls to each lawyer on the new development.
They had enough time to look at statement and conference with accused before today,” Mrs Attakorah-Obuobisa told the court.
She said the prosecution had complied with the law and stressed that there had been no surprise evidence as counsel for accused persons had strenuously tried to portray before the court.
The DPP said the prosecution had a strong case and at no point was it seeking to reconstruct its case and accordingly prayed the court to dismiss the defence team’s arguments.
Delivering the court’s ruling, the presiding judge, Mr Justice Eric Kyei Baffour, said if the defence team’s claim of inconsistencies in the prosecution’s case was true, the said inconsistencies would inure to the benefit of the defence team rather.
He said the prosecution exercises a right over the persons it intended to call as witnesses, stressing that, “insofar as a case is not closed by prosecution – the Republic has liberty within laws and rules to call witnesses.
“It will be too much for court to moderate persons the prosecution intends to call to testify,” he continued.
The trial judge held that there was full disclosure from the prosecution but indicated the defence team was not given ample time to prepare for the new witness.
He accordingly adjourned the case to February 5, 2019 to afford the defence team ample time to do proper consultation with the accused persons.