A counsel has said that the decision of the Fast Track High Court that tried the Quality Grains Scandal case was influenced by public opinion.
Counsel for Mr. Kwame Peprah, Nana Agyei-Ampofo, made this submission before the Court of Appeal last Wednesday. The Court was hearing the appeal challenging the conviction of Mr. Peprah and two other top officials of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government. Mr. Ibrahim Adam and Dr. George Yankey, former Minister for Agriculture and Director of Legal Affairs, Minister of Finance, respectively. The Accra Fast Track High Court, presided over by Mr. Justice Kwame Afeh in April last year, sentenced the three to various terms of imprisonment for then different roles in the Quality Grains Scandal, which cost the nation over $20 million.
According to Nana Agyei-Ampofo, Justice Afreh?s decision was influenced more by opinion from sections of the public that huge sums of money has been lost to the state, so some individuals in the NDC government must be punished, instead of evidence of law before him.
?He was weighing submissions made in favour of he accused persons against public opinion. ?If he had not been so much influenced by public opinion in this matter, the court would have been fair to them,? he argued.
According to Nana Agyei-Ampofo, the decision was hasty and influenced by outside opinion, than law and must therefore by reversed. He also submitted that the conduct and pronouncement of Justice Afreh when delivering the judgement clearly indicate that he was angry and disappointed in the former government officials for not implicating former President Rawlings.
?If the trial judge did not seek the involvement of the former president, how come that he suspects he was involved?? he asked. He said the judge allowed himself to be swayed by matters that had no evidence.
The counsel said even though his client and his colleagues were chared with conspiracy to commit crime, no proper evidence has been established to that effect. He explained that the essence of conspiracy is that the schemes act solely with a common criminal purpose.