State Prosecutors in the trial of Dr Stephen Opuni, former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the COCOBOD and Seidu Agongo, CEO of Agricult Ghana Limited, on Wednesday objected to tendering of a document through its witness.
Yvonne Atakora Obuobisa, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), told an Accra High Court that the prosecution witness was not its author and that it was a document from Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG), which existence the witness had earlier denied.
The witness “has not said he has seen the document before in his evidence in-chief and no reference, was made whatsoever about it.
“This document cannot be tendered through the witness for him to answer questions on.”
The DPP said no foundation was laid concerning the tendering of the said document, to show that the witness was familiar with it.
“The fact that the witness works at CRIG and knows the author does not mean he can answer questions on it.”
She said if the document was going to be tendered, then, a strong foundation should have been laid for the author to speak to it, adding that, the document did not fall under any of the exceptions.
Mrs Atakora Obuobisa said there would be no admissibility, should it be tendered through the witness.
It would serve no purpose, since Dr Alfred Arthur, the witness, would be unable to speak to it and she prayed the court not to allow it.
She argued that the document should be tendered at the appropriate time through the right witness.
Responding, Benson Nutsukpui, Counsel for Agongo, said the document was brought to court on the orders of the court and the fact that it was an official document was not in doubt.
The witness was in court to give evidence in his capacity as an official from CRIG and not in his personal capacity as Dr Arthur.
He said the witness had demonstrated enough knowledge about the activities of CRIG. A witness should not be an author of a document before, that document could be tendered through them.
It would be unfair to the witness, he said, since he had told the court that CRIG had never described the product as Lithovit Liquid fertilizer.
He stated that the prosecution had not demonstrated any known legal basis for which the document should be excluded.
Justice Clemence Honyenugah, an Appeal Court Judge, sitting as an additional High Court Judge ruling on the objection said upon hearing the DPP and Counsel for second and third accused persons, “it is my opinion that upon the perusal of the sort of document to be tendered, it is clear that the document is signed by Dr K. Opoku Ameyaw.”
He said he had also looked at proceedings dated December 3, 2018, where the witness denied knowledge of the said document to be tendered.
The Judge accepted the argument by the DPP that a strong case had not been made for the tendering of the document.
“I think that it will be unfair to tender a document through a witness, who denies its existence.”
Mr Nutsukpui told the court that they were withdrawing the document they sought to tender from CRIG.
Justice Honyenugah said since the Counsel had applied to withdraw the said document, the ruling would not be applicable.
The Court announced that it had received the attached documents it demanded from COCOBOD at the last adjourned date.
The Deputy Director, Legal of COCOBOD, Johannes Velba at the last sitting said “we have set up a committee to investigate the circumstances surrounding the unavailability of a letter dated November 20, 2014.”
Mr Velba prayed the court for some time to look for that document.
Dr Opuni and Mr Agongo are facing 27 charges, including defrauding by false pretences, willfully causing financial loss to the state, money laundering, corruption by public officer and acting in contravention of the Public Procurement Act.
They have pleaded not guilty and have been granted a GH¢300,000.00 each self-recognisance bail by the Court.
The Court adjourned the case to Wednesday, January 16, 2019 for continuation of the trial.