Counsel for Mallam Issah and Selormey react to ruling

Sat, 2 Mar 2002 Source: GNA

Mr Ambrose Dery, Counsel for Mallam Yusif Issah, former Sports Minister on Friday said the best time for him to take any decisions concerning the Supreme Court's ruling on the Fast Track Court (FTC) would be after it had given its reasons.

Mr Dery, who was speaking in an interview, said the ruling of the Supreme Court as well as the reasons represented the law and should be respected as such. In view of this, anything said concerning the ruling should be done with a lot of care, since the reasons for the ruling had not yet been given.

Mr Dery said although he had already filed an appeal against his client's conviction, he would exploit all the provisions under the Constitution to speed up the appeal. Mr Johny B. Quarshie-Idun, Counsel for Victor Selormey, Former Deputy Minister of Finance, said the situation now had put his client in a much better position than he was formerly.

He said in his view, the FTC was too fast for the proper dispensation of justice since time was often needed to properly dispose of cases before the court. Mr Quarshie-Idun said as part of the principles of law it was better for 99 criminals to be freed than for one innocent person to be wrongfully jailed.

He said in his view this principle could be violated with the fast track system since the process was too fast for proper analyses to be made. Mr. Quarshie-Idun said he would make use of all the provisions under the ruling to the advantage of his client. He, however, would not reveal how he would do that now.

Mallam Yusif Issa, former Sports Minister, was on July 20 convicted by the Fast Track High Court on two counts of stealing and fraudulently causing financial loss to the state.

Mallam Isa was found guilty of stealing 46,000 dollars meant for the payment of bonuses of players of the senior national team, the Black Stars, during a World Cup qualifying match in Sudan on February 25.

He was accordingly jailed for four years on both counts to run concurrently and ordered to refund the 46,000 dollars within two months or serve a two years' jail term. He appealed against his conviction and the term of imprisonment in default was quashed.

Serlomey was on December 10, 2001 sentenced to eight years' imprisonment with hard labour, when he was found guilty on two counts of defrauding the state by false pretences. He was fined 10 million cedis each on two counts of conspiracy. He was to go to prison for 12 months in default and the sentences were to run concurrently.

In addition, Selormey was to pay a fine of 10 million cedis each on two counts of wilfully causing financial loss of 1.3 million dollars to the state and in default to serve additional 12 months. The sentences were to run concurrently. The Supreme Court, however, ruled on Thursday that the Fast Track High Courts that tried them was unconstitutional and had no jurisdiction to try criminal cases.

The court by a majority decision of 5-4 gave the judgement in the case in which Tsatsu Tsikata, Former Chief Executive of the Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC), challenged the legality and existence of the Fast Track Court. This was when he appeared before it on charges of wilfully causing financial loss to the state.

Source: GNA

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