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General News Fri, 15 Jan 1999

Court to rule on 'No case" submissions on January 27.

Accra (Greater Accra) 15 Jan. '99

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An Accra circuit court will on January 27 rule whether or not a prima facie case has been made against Eben Quarcoo, former editor of the "Free Press", who is being tried for publishing defamatory articles against Nana Konadu Agyeman Rawlings. This followed a submission of "no case" made on Thursday by Mr Akoto Ampaw, attorney for Quarcoo. Mr Ampaw said the prosecution has not "sufficiently" led evidence to ground the charge against his client. The prosecution closed its case in December, last year. Quarcoo is charged with criminal libel for allegedly publishing in the "Free Press" edition of December 30, 1994, and January five, 1995, that Nana Konadu carried gold and narcotic drugs on unannounced trips abroad. Quarcoo, who has pleaded not guilty and is on a five Million-cedi bail, is on trial together with Tommy Thompson Books Limited, publishers of the "Free Press". Mr Ampaw, in his submission, said the prosecution at the end of its case could not prove that the publication complained of made specific reference to Nana Konadu as being contended. Counsel said there is "no misconduct on the part of a person to carry gold abroad unless it is otherwise proved that it was done unlawfully". Mr Ampaw submitted that the publication did not impute any misconduct on the part of Nana Konadu by carrying gold abroad. He said for the prosecution to sustain the charge, it must establish that the publication said the complainant carried the gold unlawfully. Counsel contended that from the totality of the evidence adduced by the prosecution, sufficient foundation has not been laid for the accused to be called upon to open their defence. Mr Ampaw, therefore, urged the court to acquit and discharge his client. Replying, Mr Martin Amidu, Deputy Attorney-General, said the prosecution has "abundantly" made a prima facie case against the accused persons to open their defence. He said the fact that counsel has conceded that there was a publication about the complainant is one of the grounds laid by the prosecution. Mr Amidu contended that the publication must be read in its context and that any "ordinary person without legal knowledge will conclude that it imputed criminal intention and misconduct on the part of the complainant". He said there is no evidence on record that Nana Konadu, after giving evidence and being cross-examined, admitted that she carried gold abroad on her official trips. He submitted that, there is nothing on record that counsel suggested to the complainant under cross-examination that she carried gold and narcotic drugs outside the country. Mr Amidu said the complainant in her evidence only said she wore necklaces and ornaments made of gold when she travelled abroad. He argued that the publication imputed misconduct on the part of Nana Konadu. Mr Amidu, therefore, urged the court to call on the accused to open their defence, because enough evidence has been provided to support the charge.

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