Jake Acquah-Sampson, counsel for Dr. Richard Anane, former Minister for Roads and Transport, in the trial of the former minister and four other former officials of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) at an Accra Fast Track High Court Financial Division for allegedly causing financial loss to the state, yesterday informed the court his client intended to appeal against the dismissal of their application to have the case referred to the Supreme Court.
Counsel for Dr. Anane, who filed the notice of appeal with Ata Akyea, counsel for former Chief of Staff Kwadwo Mpiani, wants to appeal against the judge’s refusal to refer certain aspects of the case to the Supreme Court for interpretation and to order the prosecution to make available to the accused persons certain documents which they intend to use in the trial against them.
The accused persons were also refused the list of names of witnesses who are to testify against them and copies of statements they gave to the state before they were arraigned.
He therefore prayed the court presided over by Justice Bright Mensah to adjourn the case pending the final determination of the appeal.
The two defence lawyers also filed the appeal on behalf of Dr. Anthony Akoto-Osei, former Minister of State at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, Sammy Crabbe, former Greater Regional of the NPP and Prof George Gyan Baffuor, Member of Parliament for Wenchi, who are being tried along with the two.
The trial judge, in his ruling, noted that once the appeal was yet to be heard, the trial could not continue and subsequently adjourned the case to November 1, 2010.
The five NPP officials have been accused of causing financial loss to the state to the tune of $56million for their alleged involvement in the operations of the now defunct Ghana International Airlines Limited (GIAL).
The state was represented by Getrude Aikins, the acting Director for Public Prosecutions.
Dr. Richard Anane Meanwhile, Dr. Anane and Dr Akoto Osei, who were not in court, were earlier warned by the judge to appear before him on the next hearing date but immediately after the case was adjourned, Dr. Anane was seen rushing into the courtroom with his lawyer.
Giving reasons for his verdict, the trial judge said having looked at Article 19, vis-à-vis Act 30, he did not believe that there was the need for any interpretation as they are unambiguous.
Justice Mensah, giving reasons for refusing the application, stated that section 96 (7) of Act 30 was not in contravention of any Article in the constitution, stressing that there would be the need to refer to the Supreme Court when the validity of the law arises.
He said answers to the provisions mentioned by the defence team in their applications were clear so there were no questions of the interpretation of the constitution as far as he was concerned.
The trial judge said if the lower courts were to refer to the Supreme Courts the least seemingly constitutional issue, then the Supreme Court would be inundated with many cases, as the lower courts would always stop and refer a lot of their cases for interpretation.
Furthermore, the trial judge noted that there was no law requiring the prosecution to provide the defence team with statements and other materials which would be used against their clients but said in the interest of justice, the court may call on the prosecution to provide the defence team with the statements and exhibits to be used against the accused persons.
He said the trial was meant to be expeditious and less expensive, explaining that the law did not provide pre-disclosures for summary trial.
Justice Mensah observed that criminal laws were governed only by the laws of Ghana, adding that for foreign laws to be applicable to cases in the country, they must first of all be domesticated. He indicated that the citing of foreign authorities in the case is only persuasive but not binding on the court.
Explaining further, the trial judge said questions of interpretation arose when the words of a provision were not precise, ambiguous or where rival meanings had been placed together and questions raised as to which of them should prevail or if a provision raised questions of enforcement.
Justice Mensah was of the view of that their application did not fall under any of the circumstances and consequently dismissed their applications.