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The Supreme Court has asked the state to provide five persons standing trial in the $4 million National Communication Authority (NCA) scandal with documents they intend to rely on during the trial.
The five persons standing trial are Eugene Baffoe-Bonnie, former Board Chairman of the authority; William Tevie, former Director-General (NCA); Nana Yaw Ensaw, former sub-committee chairman on finance at the NCA; Alhaji Salifu Osman, former Deputy National Security Co-ordinator; and George Oppong, a businessman.
The NCA trial at the High Court was put on hold following a writ filed at the Supreme Court by the five accused persons seeking an interpretation of Article 19 (e) and (g), which relates to the provision of adequate facilities to ensure fair trial.
The seven-member panel by unanimous decision paves the way also for Dr Stephen K. Opuni, former Chief Executive Officer of COCOBOD, who is being held for causing financial loss, to be also given access to documents the prosecution in that case would also be relying upon.
According to the court, the accused were entitled to all prosecution witness statements even if the statements would not be tendered in court.
Also, the court held that accused persons must be given all exhibits that the prosecution would tender as evidence.
This would enable the accused to plea bargain and also build their defence.
The court, however, stated that the disclosures were subject to certain conditions such as its relevance, the public good, state security, among others.
The apex court ruled that, “The duty of disclosure is not absolute. It is at the discretion of prosecution and same should be made at a reasonable time.”
The court said disclosures must be determined based on the discretion of the prosecution, but this is subject to a review by a court.
The court further held that disclosures could be made at the beginning of a trial and same in the end if there were additional issues.
In cases where documents were being tendered during trial, counsels could seek an adjournment to study those documents.
The judgement, which was read by Justice Sophia Adinyira, called on the Law Reform Commission to overhaul Act 30 to conform to the 1992 Constitution.
“It’s urgent that Criminal Procedure Code (1960) be reformed in an era where there is e-filing [and] electronic tracking so it would conform to the 1992 Constitution.”
Lawyers for in the NCA trial had argued that per Article 19 clause 2 (e) and (g), their clients were entitled to all the prosecution documents.
The state, however, held that it was only documents that they intend to rely on during trial that should be made available to the accused.
Based on that, the five accused in the NCA trial went to the Supreme Court to seek interpretation of Article 19 (e) and (g).
Dr Opuni’s lawyers also raised similar concerns during his trial.
The other members of the panel included justices William Atuguba, presiding; Julius Ansah, Annin Yeboah, Jonne Victor Dotse, Yaw Appau, and Sule Gbadegbe.
Source: The Finder