The Attorney General and Ministry of Justice, Godfred Yeboah Dame has appealed a decision by the High Court judge hearing the case brought against former Chief Executive Officer of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Stephen Opuni, and others, to start the trial from scratch.
Mr. Opuni has been standing trial together with businessman, Seidu Agongo and Agricult Ghana Limited since 2018 after they were charged with 27 counts for allegedly engaging in illegalities that caused financial loss of GH¢271.3 million to the state and led to the distribution of sub-standard fertiliser to cocoa farmers.
The case was originally before Justice Clemence Jackson Honyenuga who retired from active service.
But on April 4, 2023, the new judge upheld a request from the defense counsel that the case should start “de novo” despite fierce resistance from the prosecutors.
Unhappy with the ruling, Yvonne Atakora Obuobisa, Director of Public Prosecutors, filed an appeal, at the Court of Appeal, on behalf of the Attorney General.
The Attorney General wants the Court of Appeal to set aside the ruling directing that the trial be started de novo and a further order that evidence led at the trial so far should be adopted by the trial judge.
According to the office of the Attorney General, the High Court’s decision to start the trial de novo has occasioned a miscarriage of justice as it will hinder an efficient trial of the accused persons in the instant case.
“The ruling of the court was contrary to the principles of fair trial contained in Article 19 of the 1992 Constitution and as decided by the Supreme Court in Republic v. Eugene Baffoe-Bonnie  Crim. LR 343,” the office of the Attorney General added in the writ sighted by citinewsroom.com.
The AG further argued that the basis on which the new trial judge ruled was misdirected.
“The trial judge misdirected himself in the application of the principles regarding the adoption of evidence in a trial”.
“The so-called “suspicious and allegation of unfairness” have already been pronounced upon by the trial court as well as courts superior to the trial court and therefore have become res judicata”.
“The learned judge ignored the point that the only motion pending before the trial court was an application for the previous judge to recuse himself which had been rendered moot by the judge’s retirement and subsequent placement of the case before the learned judge. The learned judge in relying on irrelevant factors already disposed of by the Superior Courts, unfairly gave the accused persons a second bite at the cherry”.
“The learned judge erred in ignoring the right and duty of the Republic to efficiently prosecute crime and placing premium on the presumption of innocence of the accused person,” the Attorney General added in the writ.