Court denies Opuni, Agongo’s request to halt trial as they pursue appeal

The Criminal Court 1 division of the High Court on Wednesday, May 26, 2021, denied two motions by former COCOBOD CEO, Dr. Stephen Opuni, and Agricult Ghana Limited CEO, Seidu Agongo, to halt the ongoing trial while they pursue an interlocutory appeal.

The two are standing trial together with Agricult Ghana Limited for allegedly causing the state to lose over GHS 217 million in a cocoa fertilizer transaction.

The parties at the close of the State’s case made a submission of no case but were dismissed.

They subsequently appealed this dismissal with an attendant motion on notice for a stay of proceedings while the interlocutory appeal is pursued.

Arguing the application, lawyers for Dr. Opuni, Seidu Agongo and Agricult Ghana Limited submitted that the Court erred in its decision to dismiss the submission of no case.

According to the laws, 13 exhibits of evidence that had been admitted without objection had been rejected by the Court acting on its own.

This, the lawyers argued, created circumstances likely to deny their clients their right to a fair trial, particularly where the liberties of the accused were at stake.

Opposing the application, Chief State Attorney, Evelyn Keelson, said the appellants had not shown any grounds on which the Court could exercise its discretion to stay the proceedings.

She submitted that the State fully discharged its burden of establishing a prima face case, and invited the Court to dismiss the application, so the accused persons can open their defence.

The Chief State Attorney also submitted that there was neither a law nor a rule of law that imposed on the Court a duty to stay proceedings, while an appeal is pursued. She argued that under the new Court of Appeal rules, the court was not bound to stay proceedings.

Clemence HonyenugaJSC, on the strength of the submissions made, dismissed the application for stay. He ruled that the Court was not obliged to stay the proceedings.

He, therefore, adjourned to June 3, 2021, for the parties to open their defence.

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