Accra, May 23, GNA –The Accra High Court hearing the case involving Dr Stephen Opuni, Seidu Agongo and one other, has ordered Dr Opuni to produce his third Defence Witness at the next adjourned date.
Dr Opuni through his lawyers was supposed to produce Samuel Torbi, the Second Defence Witness, to be cross examined by the State prosecution in the case but the witness was absent with an excuse duty from the lawyers.
Mr Torbi gave his evidence in chief and was cross examined by the Counsel for Seidu Agongo, which he ended.
The State also commenced its cross examination but could not finish and on Wednesday May 18, when the case was called, the witness was absent, but the Court was told he was on admission and had brought an excuse duty.
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 on a GHS300,000.00 self-recognizance bail each.
On Monday May 23, 2022, when the case was called, Mr Samuel Codjoe, Counsel for Dr Opuni, informed the Court that he had in his hand another excuse duty issued by the Ridge Hospital on behalf of Mr Torbi.
Mr Torbi was admitted to the Hospital on May 17, 2022, and was discharged on May 20, 2022, and was given a week’s excuse duty.
Mr Codjoe told the Court that this explained why the witness was not present in court to continue with the cross examination.
The counsel explained that he had requested from the Hospital a medical report to enable him present that to the Court but he was told that it was due to Doctor-Patient confidentiality, it could not be done except there was an order from the Court.
Mrs Evelyn Keelson, Chief State Attorney, said she was served with a copy of the excuse duty of the witness from the Hospital.
She said once again, “we do not know from the excuse duty, what is wrong with the witness, and it was their submission that for the Court to effectively manage the conduct of the case, it would be necessary for it to order the medical officer who had issued the excuse duty to appear before the court to give further and better particulars to the court as to the ailment.”
She said this would help the Court to effectively manage the conduct of the case and assist the Court in deciding whether the next defence witness for Dr Opuni could be called, while the second witness took time to heal.
Justice Clemence Jackson Honyenuga, a Supreme Court Judge, sitting as an additional High Judge, after hearing the parties, said the second witness would be allowed to recover and recalled to continue his cross examination.
He cautioned that the Court had power to expunge the evidence of the witness at the appropriate time, consequently, although the suggestion from the prosecution to invite the Doctor was laudable, it would only occasion more delays in the four-year old criminal trial
At the last adjourned date, the judge expressed surprised at the turn of events at the disposition of the second defence witness.
The Judge said he was surprised because the witness looked very energetic and did not seem like somebody who could fall sick within two days.