1
Crime & Punishment Thu, 18 May 2006

Appeal Court rules on Casely-Hayford's Appeal on June 1

Accra, May 18, GNA - The Court of Appeal would on Thursday, June 1, give its ruling on an Appeal Application filed against the conviction and sentence of Ralph Casely-Hayford, a businessman, by an Accra Fast Track Court (FTC).

Mr Justice Owusu Ansah, the Presiding Appeal Court Judge, announced on Thursday that due to some unforeseen circumstances, the Court's ruling would be ready on the next adjourned date. He, therefore, adjourned proceedings to Thursday, June 1 on which day the convict, who is being represented by a team of lawyers led by Mr Adumuah Bossman, would know his fate.

The FTC on April 21, 2005 found Casely-Hayford guilty of accepting bribe to influence a public officer, contrary to Section 252 (1) of the Criminal Code 1960, Act 29 during the divestiture of the Ghana Rubber Estates Limited (GREL).

Upon his conviction, Casely-Hayford was sentenced to three years' imprisonment with hard labour.

In a seven-point ground accompanying a Notice of Appeal against the conviction and sentence of the convict, filed by Mr Rodney Heward-Mills, his counsel, stated that the learned trial judge erred in law and on the facts in failing to conclude that the Prosecution had failed to establish beyond reasonable doubt that the funds from which his client was allegedly paid 70 million cedis actually existed in 1996, in which year the offence for which Casely-Hayford was charged, was alleged to have taken place.

Counsel stated further that the learned Trial Judge erred in law and on the facts in failing to find that material evidence being cheque stubs, copies of vouchers, and accounting records in the custody of GREL, not adduced by the Prosecution, and which could resolve conclusively the question as to whether the funds were available in 1996 or 1997 was fatal to the Prosecution's case.

Mr Heward-Mills' third ground was that the learned trial judge erred in law and on the facts in failing to resolve doubts and contradictions in the Prosecution's case in favour of the convict. Counsel stated further that the learned Trial Judge erred on the tainted evidence of the first three Prosecution Witnesses, to conclude that the Prosecution proved its case against Casely-Hayford beyond all reasonable doubts.

In his fifth ground of appeal, Mr Heward-Mills stated that the learned Trial Judge erred in law and on the facts in finding that the evidential burden, if any, on the convict, was not discharged, so as to require his acquittal.

Concluding, Mr Heward-Mills was of the view that the conviction was unreasonable, with regard to the evidence adduced at the trial, adding, therefore, that in all the circumstances, the sentence imposed on his client was manifestly harsh and excessive.

On the receipt of the Court's Record of Proceedings, Mr Heward-Mills on October 18, 2005, filed two additional grounds of appeal and stated that the learned Trial Judge erred in law and on the facts in finding that the Prosecution had proved all the ingredients of the offence against his client beyond any reasonable doubt when there was no evidence of prior agreement to or pretence of being able to influence Mr Dan Abodakpi, a public officer.

Mr Heward-Mills also stated that the learned Trial Judge erred in law in considering that while two of the Prosecution Witnesses namely, Mr Etienne Popler and Dr Albert Owusu-Banarfo, former Managing Director and Consultant of GREL, respectively, were accomplices to the alleged offence for which his client was charged, the evidence of each of them against the convict, amounted to corroboration for the purpose of making findings of fact to support or justify the conviction.

On November 15, 2001, Casely-Hayford and two others, Madam Hanny Sherry Ayittey, Treasurer of the 31st December Women's Movement and Mr Emmanuel Amuzu Agbodo, Former Executive Secretary of the Divestiture Implementation Committee (DIC), were put on trial at the FTC for their alleged involvement in corrupt practices in connection with GREL's divestiture.

On April 21, 2005, the Court acquitted and discharged Madam Ayittey and Mr Agbodo saying that the Prosecution had failed to prove its case beyond al reasonable doubts against them.

Source: GNA