General News Mon, 3 Nov 2003

Acquit my client - Heward-Mills

Accra, Nov. 3, GNA - Mr Rodney Heward-Mills, a Defence Counsel in the Ghana Rubber Estates Limited (GREL) divestiture case on Monday asked an Accra Fast Track Court to acquit and discharge his client, Ralph Casely-Hayford, a Businessman.

Making a submission of "no case" in favour of his client, Mr Heward-Mills stated that since the Prosecution had failed to prove the essential elements of the charge against him, there was no need for the court to invite him to open his defence.

Casely-Hayford is standing trial with three others for their alleged involvement in corruption during the privatisation of GREL. The three are Hanny Sherry Ayittey, Treasurer of the 31st December Women's Movement, Emmanuel Amuzu Agbodo, former Executive Secretary of the Divestiture Implementation Committee (DIC) and Sati Dorcas Ocran, Housewife.

They are accused of using their various positions to influence the DIC Board to give GREL's bid to a French company called Societe Industrielle Plantation Hevea (SIPH). All the four have pleaded not guilty to their various charges and each is on a self-recognisance bail.

Mr Heward-Mills quoted Section 173 of the Criminal Procedure Code, which in sum states that a court has no alternative than to acquit and discharge an accused person if at the end of the Prosecution's case no "prima facie" charge had been established against him or her. Counsel stated that from the evidence so far, it was "crystal clear that the Prosecution" had fallen short of expectation, and for that matter prayed the Court to free his client.

"The evidence in support of the charge against my client is vague, ambiguous, incomplete and incredible", Counsel pointed out.

Counsel stated that he Prosecution woefully failed to prove that his client actually took an amount of 70 million cedis under the pretext of influencing Mr Dan Abodakpi, Member of the DIC Board, to divest GREL in favour of SIPH.

He said there were no receipts or documentations covering the money, which three of the Prosecution Witnesses, in their evidence-in-chief before the Court, alleged was given to his client. Counsel continues with his submissions on Wednesday, November 5.

Source: GNA
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