The Criminal trial of embattled Member of Parliament for Assin North, James Gyakye Quayson continued in his absence after the legislator failed to make himself available despite an earlier caution from the court.
On November 3, Justice Mary Ekue Yanzuh ruled that if the Assin North MP and his lawyers failed to appear in court or join the proceedings via an online link, the legislator would be tried in absentia.
Earlier, lawyers of Gyakye Quayson had communicated to the court that he had travelled out of the jurisdiction for medical tests and hence would not be able to make it to the next hearing. But the presiding judge, Justice Mary Yanzuh indicated that the court had not received any evidence to back such claims.
The trial was initially scheduled to be heard on October 27 but was rescheduled because the judge had to go for a training. It was hence postponed to take place on November 3.
She directed that both the legislator and his counsel appear in the next hearing or risk being tried in absentia after noting that a Zoom link would be made available to the lawyer. This was after both parties from the accused failed to show up on November 3, 2023.
On Thursday, November 9, when the case was called, counsel for Gyakye Quayson, led by Tsatsu Tsikata told the court that his client was still out of the jurisdiction and was taking medical tests in Canada which may require requisite treatment.
“The accused person is in Canada for medical tests and the requisite treatment arising from those tests,” Tsatsu Tsikata explained.
“I have spoken to the accused person and he is going to provide from the doctors in Canada, with full details of his medical situation and the treatment that he is having to undergo.
“In the meantime, he has instructed me to contact a medical doctor in Ghana who had seen him just before he travelled and whose report, he took with him to doctors seeing him in Canada,” he added.
In an attempt to get the court to reconsider its ruling on November 3, to the effect that his client would be tried in absentia due to his absence, Tsatsu Tsikata pleaded with the judge to allow him to produce the doctor who catered for the MP before he travelled to the court to clarify the legislator’s condition.
“I am therefore respectfully asking the court to allow us to contact the doctor in Ghana and make him available to the court to make it clear to the court the medical situation which requires the accused to undergo the treatment that the specialist doctors in Canada are requiring him to undergo. It is a serious situation,” Mr Tsikata stated.
He also notified the court that his client and lawyers were not aware of the November 3 sitting, during which the order to possibly try the case in his absence was given.
Responding to his plea, however, Justice Yanzuh maintained that there was no evidence to show the condition of Gyakye Quayson and directed the proceedings to proceed.
“There is an affidavit on record that a hearing notice has been served on counsel for the accused and the accused had failed to join the proceedings in person and virtually. No reasonable excuse has been given for his absence. PW1 is hereby called to enter the witness box for the conclusion of cross-examination.”
At this point, Tsatsu Tsikata could not hide his disappointment at the presiding judge. Citing Article 19(3) of the Constitution, he noted that the “arbitrariness” of the judge was “staggering.”