General News of Fri, 23 Feb 201812
State hid favourable evidence from my client - Jailed Assibit to appeal
Businessman, Philip Akpeena Assibit, is expected to appeal his conviction by an Accra High court which sentenced them to 12 years for six counts including defrauding by false pretense.
His legal counsel, Kwaku Paintsil, said he has been instructed to appeal the conviction and also apply for bail.
Kwaku Paintsil argued the state which had the burden of approving its six charges was selective in presenting evidence to the Financial Division of the High Court. He told Joy News' Joseph Ackah-Blay, the state withheld vital and favourable evidence from the court which could have freed his client.
"The prosecution was specifically accused not only by one witness but by two or three witnesses of deliberately hiding evidence from the court".
"If the prosecution has a good case why withhold evidence from the court?".
Philip Assibit's fate may have been nailed by a damning report into the operations of Ghana Youth Employment and Entrepreneurial Development Agency (GYEEDA) which uncovered systemic rot in the government-run jobs program.
While the program was meant to alleviate the plight of teeming unemployed youths, it proved to be a 'personal economic bail-out' for some government officials and service providers.
Mr. Assibit received 3.3million cedis for no work done after putting in claims which the court found to be a pure work of fiction.
The court found that a purported MoU signed between then National Youth Employment Program (NYEP) and the then CEO of Goodwill International Ghana (GIG) Philip Assibit, cannot be described as a contract of consultancy services.
The court also found the document presented as evidence of work done by Phillip Assibit had gaps in it. It looked unfinished and references are made to the European Union as if Ghana is in Europe.
The presiding judge, Justice Afia Serwaah Asare Botwe, said the document was fraudulent and was presented to Economic and Organised Crimes Office (EOCO) by Mr Assibit. The judge rejected Assibit's claims that the documents were tampered with by EOCO.
In sentencing the businessman, the court gave him an opportunity to refund the loot. But in what the court described as a lack of remorse, Assibit turned this down.
His lawyer told Joy News' Joseph Ackah-Blay, the offer of the judge was "unfair".
Kwaku Paintsil said even the judge conceded that proceedings are normally adjourned to allow the lawyers of the accused and the state to negotiate a plea bargain.
But in this case "she was not willing to adjourn proceedings," he said.
"You cannot ask a lawyer to confer with the client in the glare of the court and come out with anything reasonable in five minutes," he expressed some disappointment.
The lawyer explained his unwillingness to negotiate in court was also "tactical" because to do so would be an admission of guilt which could jeopardise possible appeal plans.
"It is as good as admitting the conviction," he said.
The lawyer suspected that "even if we decided to refund the entire amount, the judge will still go ahead to sentence them".
Kwaku Paintsil expects an appeal and a bail application will be filed as early as next week.