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Sunday, November 29, 2009

GHANA: $850,000 fraud case takes another turn

The $850,000 fraud case involving two lawyers took another turn Thursday when the trial judge who had been authorised by the Chief Justice and the Attorney-General to hear the matter told parties in the case that he had been restrained from further hearing the matter by a High Court judge.

The trial judge, Mr D. E. K. Daketsey, told the prosecution and the defence teams that he had been served with an order of injunction restraining him from hearing the case until the determination of a suit brought against him by the two lawyers.

According to the judge, the lawyers, Joseph Kwame Owusu Asamani and Ekow Amua-Sekyi, who are facing charges of forgery and fraud, sought the order from the Human Rights Court, presided over by Mr Justice U. P. Dery, last Friday.

According to counsel for the two lawyers, Mr James Agalga, November 12, 2009 had been fixed for hearing the motion for an order of prohibition directed at the judge whom his clients had accused of making bias statements against them.

The prosecution had stated that the two allegedly prepared a Deed of Assignment, unknown to the complainant, Gordon Etroo, scanned his signature on it, registered it at the Lands Registry and presented it to Howard Eric Ewen, the Managing Director of Keegan Resources, who also signed.

On March 18, 2007, the two allegedly forged a judgement titled 'Axex Company Limited versus four other defendants' and inserted an order by a High Court judge for the recovery of a mine known as Bonte Esaase Gold Mine.

According to the prosecution, the two lawyers, without the knowledge of Samuel Etroo and Mr Kwame Opoku, initiated a civil suit number BL35/07, as 'Kwame Opoku versus Sametro Company Limited'.

However, the two have not appeared before the court to answer the charges.

The trial judge, Mr Daketsey, who did not disclose the grounds of the injunction, said he had since been served with a writ of prohibition by the two lawyers.

The lawyers were said to have sought the order on the grounds that the judge was likely to show bias if he went ahead to hear the case against them.

The judge told prosecutors and defence lawyers that he had instructed his solicitors to contest the case because he had no personal interest or whatsoever in the case.

He also told the parties in his chambers that he felt aggrieved because the two lawyers had, on a countless number of occasions, refused to appear in his court to answer charges levelled against them.

Obviously aggrieved at the turn of events, Nana Ato Dadzie, who is counsel for the complainant in the case, told journalists that the common practice was for the lawyers to be in court to state why they were absent.

He said the case had had a chequered history because it took more than two years for the lawyers to be put before court.

He said the Attorney-General called for the docket for study and on October 22, 2008 she formally wrote to the court authorising it to proceed with the case, adding that the Chief Justice had also authorised the judge to hear the case.

Nana Ato Dadzie said although the two lawyers were at liberty to go for a prohibition order, he was of the view that such antics were calculated to frustrate the court process.

He also indicated that his client was an interested party and he, therefore, intended to join the suit the Human Rights Court.

He further indicated that the interest of justice would be served if all parties had their day in court.

No definite date has been fixed for the hearing of the criminal matter due to the latest twist.

Source: Daily Graphic/Ghana

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