BY MUNTALLA INUSAH
A SEVEN-MEMBER panel of the Supreme Court justices, presided over by Justice William Atuguba, would deliver its judgement on whether the Attorney-General’s Department is required by law to provide documents to accused persons days before court hearing.
The interpretation of Article 19(2) (e) and (g) is a subject of controversy in the case in which the former board chairman of the National Communications Authority (NCA), Mr Eugene Baffoe Bonnie, and four others are facing separate charges of wilfully causing financial loss to the state.
The accused persons, including Alhaji Salifu Mimina Osman, Mr George Derrick Oppong, a Director of Infralock Development Limited, Mr William Tetteh Tevie, the former Director General of NCA, and Nana Owusu Ensaw, a former Board Member, are asking for the proper interpretation of Article 19 (2) (e) and (g), which borders on fair trial.
On Tuesday, April 24, the State, represented by Deputy Attorney General, Godfred Yeboah Dame, told the court that the State would rely entirely on its statement in opposition to the application as filed at the court by the defendants.
The lawyers for the five accused persons separately indicated to the court that they also would rely on their statements of case as duly filed on April 3.
The apex court panel, comprising Justice Sophia Adenyira, Justice Julius Ansah, Justice Jones Dotse, Justice Annin Yeboah, Justice Sule Gbadegbe and Justice Yaw Appau, subsequently adjourned the matter to today, June 7, to rule on it.
The former NCA Board Chairman, Baffoe Bonnie, Director General William Tetteh Tevie, and Nana Owusu Enson and Alhaji Osman Mimina, both board members, as well as George Derrick Oppong, have all pleaded not guilty to the charges.
Moving their consolidated motion at the High Court, the lawyers said the matter, which borders on constitutional interpretation, ought to be referred to the Supreme Court since the apex court had the original jurisdiction to interpret issues bordering on the constitution.
The court, presided over by Justice Eric Kyei Baffour, granted the motion and referred the matter for the interpretation of article 19 (2) (e) and (g).
He added that there was a rival interpretation by the parties regarding the constitutional provision and that clearly indicated that there was a need for the Supreme Court to give its interpretation.
It was the case of the applicants at the High Court that the court should compel the Attorney General’s Department to disclose to the defence team all documents they intend to rely on throughout the trial as well as a comprehensive list of all prosecution witnesses they intend to call in support of their case.
Praying the court, they said the refusal by the respondent to furnish them with copies of documents and other materials they wanted to rely on in the trial constituted a violation of the human rights of accused persons.
He prayed the court to order the prosecution to furnish the applicants with the list of witnesses and summary of evidence of their testimonies before witnesses would be called.
Counsel also prayed the court to declare that any document or material evidence they attempted to tender without giving them access three clear days is inadmissible pursuant to Article 19(2) (e) and (g).