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Opuni trial can’t start afresh — Supreme Court affirms

The Supreme Court has by a unanimous decision thrown out an application seeking to start the trial of  former Chief Executive of the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Dr Stephen Kwabena Opuni and two others afresh. 


In a ruling Wednesday (June 19, 2024) a five member panel of the highest court presided over by Chief Justice Gertrude Torkornoo, dismissed as without merit, the appeal against a decision by the Court of Appeal in July 2023 which ruled that the trial should continue instead of the High Court’s decision to start the trial afresh. 


The appeal was filed by lawyers for Dr Stephen Kwabena Opuni.

 

Background 

Dr Opuni and businessman, Seidu Agongo, were charged in March 2018, for allegedly causing a financial loss of more than GH¢271 million to the state in a series of fertiliser deals during his tenure at COCOBOD.


The accused persons have pleaded not guilty to all the 24 charges. After five years of trial, the presiding judge, Justice Clemence Honyenuga, a Justice of the Supreme Court, with additional responsibility as a High Court judge, retired in March 2023.


The Chief Justice then appointed a new judge, Justice Kwasi Anokye Gyimah, to preside over the case. With the new development, the prosecution filed an application, urging the High Court to adopt the previous proceedings of the case before Justice Honyenuga, which had been ongoing for five years.


However, in a ruling on April 4, 2023, Justice Gyimah said the trial must start afresh because it would be unfair for him to adopt the proceedings of Justice Honyenuga, which had been “saddled” with numerous allegations.


That decision was overturned by the Court of Appeal following an appeal by the Attorney-General. Dr Opuni then appealed against the ruling of the Court of Appeal at the Supreme Court.


Credit: Graphic online

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