A three-member panel of the Accra High Court presided over by Justice Afia Serwah Asare-Botwe has issued a stern warning to the defence lawyers in the ongoing alleged High Treason trial (Coup Plot) after failing to comply with orders of the court issued some six months ago.
The panel which also includes – Justice Hafisata Amaleboba and Justice Stephen Oppong had earlier in July 25, last year, ordered them to file their disclosures if any before the end of December last year.
But, with various reasons assigned, including applications for Stay of Proceedings pending an appeal against the court’s ruling on submission of no case, the accused persons did not file anything.
The accused persons are in court for allegedly taking part in the activities of Take Action Ghana (TAG), a non-governmental organisation (NGO) accused by the prosecution of planning to destabilise the country to take over the government.
They include Dr Frederic Mac-Palm, Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) Dr Benjamin Agordzo, Colonel Samuel Kodzo Gameli, Bright Alan Debrah Ofosu (a fleet manager), Johannes Zikpi (a civilian employee of the Ghana Armed Forces) and Donya Kafui, aka Ezor (a blacksmith).
The rest — Corporal Seidu Abubakar, Lance Corporal Ali Solomon, Corporal Sylvester Akanpewon and Warrant Officer II Esther Saan Dekuwine — are all soldiers.
ACP Dr Agordzo and Col Gameli have pleaded not guilty to abetment of high treason, while the rest have pleaded not guilty to high treason and conspiracy to commit high treason.
In court for the first time in 2023, the panel of three who were all recently elevated to the second highest court of Ghana (Court of Appeal) said the order was made six months ago after the ruling on the submission of no case.
The court said their failure to comply with the order means that, “you are all in contempt of courts and the non-compliance can secure conviction.”
The defence lawyers prayed the court to give them up to the end of January to enable them file their disclosures. While giving various reasons, the lawyers argued that they had challenges getting their witnesses due to proximity.
But, the court said, technology is always available to make the work easier than before.
After forth-and-back between the bench and the defence, the court, the defence lawyers have until January 27 (grace period) to file their disclosures while the parties return to court on February 1 for Case Management Conference.
The court presided over by Justice Asare-Botwe after giving the grace period said, “you (defence) had better complied with the orders. If you fail this time you won’t like it.”
The Court on July 25 ordered the 10 accused persons to open their defence.
The panel of three presided over by Justice Afia Serwah Asare-Botwe made the order upon a ruling on submission of no case to answer by the accused persons.
The panel held that a prima facie case has been established by the prosecution against the accused persons.
Consequently, the accused persons have been ordered to file a list of all witnesses they intend to call and if they will require the assistance of the court to subpoena witnesses.
The court also directed the accused persons to file their personal witness statements and exhibits by September 19, 2022.
Meanwhile, an application for Stay of Proceedings pending an appeal filed by lawyers of Senior police officer ACP Dr Benjamin Agordzo was dismissed.
The court said, for the application to succeed, there ought to be an exceptional circumstance raised by the applicant.
The court said, there are 10 accused persons in the matter and if two out of 10 had issues with their ruling on July 25, the remaining eight cannot be put on wait – but deserve an expeditious trial.
Consequently, the court said, the application for Stay of Proceedings was refused and the court would continue with its previous schedule to hear the matter on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
The seven soldiers among the 13 witnesses included Col. Isaac Amponsah, Director, Operational Intelligence at the Defence Intelligence Unit of the Ghana Armed Forces (First Prosecution Witness).
All 10 accused persons have pleaded not guilty and have been granted bail while standing trial.
But who are State witnesses?
On July 12, 2022 Prosecution closed it case after calling 13 witnesses in the trial which started on June 8, 2021.
EIB Network’s Court Correspondent Murtala Inusah compiles the witnesses the State paraded in the order of which they appeared before the three-member panel of the High Court presided over by Justice Afia Serwah Asare-Botwe to give evidence.
First Prosecution Witness (PW1): Col. Isaac Amponsah (Director, Operational Intelligence at the Defence Intelligence (DI) Unit of the Ghana Armed Forces;
PW2: Major-General Nicholas Peter Andoh (Currently the Chief of Staff at the General Headquarters of the Ghana Armed Forces and at the material time of the alleged occurrences in this case the Director General of Defence Intelligence of the Ghana Armed Forces;
PW3: Staff Sgt. Awarf Kwadwo Sule (A soldier who says he participated in meetings and other events in this matter);
PW4: Sgt. Henry Kow Ghartey (A soldier stationed at the One Signal Regiment, the Communication Unit of the Ghana Armed Forces at Burma Camp);
PW5: Staff Sgt. Jonas Yeankye Kofi Nantonah (A soldier stationed at the Training Unit of the General Headquarters of the Ghana Armed Forces);
PW6: Isaac Osei of the Ghana Institute of Languages who testified as having been in charge of the team which transcribed the speeches on the audios and videos tendered in evidence;
PW7, ASP Richard Anaty, a firearms examiner of the Forensic Science Laboratory of the CID Headquarters;
PW8: Col. Gaspard Kwaning Asare who testified that at the material time, he was Senior Ammunition Technical Officer for the Ghana Armed Forces;
PW9: Eric Karikari Boateng, a Pharmacist and the Director, Centre for Laboratory Services and Research with the Food and Drugs Authority (FDA);
PW10: Francis Aboagye, an Officer with the National Intelligence Bureau (NIB) (formerly the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) who testified that he was part of the team that investigated this case;
PW11: Cabral Mohammed Ayambillah, a Cyber Security and Digital forensic Officer with the NIB who testified that he examined the DI devices (mobile phones) that were seized from relevant persons in this matter.
PW12: Cpl. Godwin Nii Korankye Ankrah also a soldier who testified that he also participated in a meeting with some of the accused persons;
PW13: D/C/Inspector Michael Nkrumah, also an Officer with the National Intelligence Bureau (NIB) (formerly the Bureau of National Investigations (BNI) who testified that he was also part of the team that investigated this case.