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Opuni-Agongo trial: Witnesses missing

The Attorney General’s Department has yet again appealed to the High Court, hearing the trial of the former COCOBOD boss and two others, to afford the state more time to reassemble witnesses for the retrial.

According to Mrs. Evelyn Keelson, Chief State Attorney, the prosecution is still finding it difficult to get people to testify against the accused.

“My lord, unfortunately, we have still not been able to file our witness statements,” she told the court on Wednesday, June 7, 2023.

The former COCOBOD Chief Executive, Dr. Stephen Opuni, and businessman Seidu Agongo, as well as Agricult Ghana Limited, are facing 27 charges, including willfully causing financial loss to the state and contravention of the Public Procurement Act in the purchase of Lithovit liquid fertiliser between 2014 and 2016.

They have pleaded not guilty to the charges and are on a GH¢300,000 self-recognizance bail each.

Deputy Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Alfred Tuah-Yeboah had made a similar request on April 25, when the court assembled for the continuation of the trial.

He said the prosecution has contacted witnesses the state used in the previous trial but “some are not willing to come and testify”, and therefore prayed to the court for “adjustment of time”.

Without opposition from counsel for the accused persons, the court presided over by Justice Kwasi Anokye Gyimah adjourned its sitting to June 7.

But when the court reconvened, after the long break, Mrs. Evelyn Keelson asked for additional time to file witness statements.

“The situation has not changed. My Lord, we have still not been able to locate our witnesses. So we pray the court to give us more time,” she said.

Lawyer Samuel Codjoe, counsel for Dr. Opuni, said he would leave the decision to the discretion of the court.

For counsel for Mr. Agongo, Benson Nutsukpui, the record should be set straight in the sense that the prosecution, while buying time at the High Court, is pursuing an interlocutory appeal at the Court of Appeal, hoping to overturn the High Court’s decision to start the trial afresh.

He wanted the court to take notice of that so that “tomorrow they won’t come and say we are the ones that have wasted time”.

Evelyn Keelson pleaded with the court to adjourn the matter to July 12, which was granted.

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