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General News Sat, 17 Jan 2009

Justice Abban hasn’t fled country

The Judicial Service has debunked rumours that Mrs Justice Henrietta Abban, the Court of Appeal judge who presided over the trial of the former Ghana National Petroleum Corporation (GNPC) boss, has fled the country out of fear for her safety.

Sources at the Judicial Service denied that the judge had fled the country and explained that she was currently on a sick leave, apparently the situation which gave rise to the rumours.

She was said to have begun the 14-day leave on January 5, 2009.

Mrs Justice Abban hit the headlines when she presided over the Accra Fast Track High Court which, on June 18, 2008, found Mr Tsikata guilty on three counts of wilfully causing financial loss of GH¢230,OOO to the state and another count of misapplying public property and sentenced him to five years imprisonment.

Mr Tsikata, who had maintained his innocence throughout the six-year trial, has appealed against his conviction.

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The trial started in 2002 and travelled back and forth the court ladder until his sentence that generated a lot of controversy.

Following the judgement, the judge was lambasted by sympathisers of the former GNPC boss who formed a pressure group called Friends of Tsatsu Movement and agitated for his release from the Nsawam Prison.

There were also reports of alleged threats on the life of the judge when people were said to have sent text messages that she would be dealt with; prompting calls to the security agencies to tighten security around her.

After his conviction and sentence, Tsikata filed an application for bail pending his appeal at the trial court but Mrs Justice Abban, on July 20, 2008, dismissed the application.

However, on, December 8, 2008, the Court of Appeal, by a unanimous decision, ruled that the Accra, Fast Track High Court erred in dismissing the bail application pending appeal filed by Mr Tsikata.

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It, therefore, upheld an appeal filed against the dismissal of the application by Mr Tsikata against the trial judge, Mrs Justice Abban.

However, on the last day of his term in office, former President J.A. Kufuor, under his prerogative of mercy as enshrined in the Constitution, granted an unconditional pardon to Mr Tsikata.

At the time, Mr Tsikata, who was still on admission at the Cardiothoracic Centre of the Korle-Bu Teaching Hospital, declined the pardon and insisted that he would continue to pursue justice in the court of law.

He described the gesture of the former President as the height of hypocrisy, saying that, "I have never sought, and I do not need your pretence of mercy Justice is my quest and I will pursue this quest in accordance with the constitution and laws of Ghana."

That quest to seek justice at the court commenced on a positive note when the Accra Fast Track High Court upheld his bail application pending appeal and granted him a self-recognisance bail in the sum of GH¢l million.

Source: Daily Graphic