By: Ivy Benson
The Accra Financial Court trying former government appointees for their alleged involvement in the sale of Ghana Airways, which is currently operating as Ghana International Airlines Limited (GIAL), yesterday, gave a strong warning to three Members of Parliament, who failed to appear before it.
The counsel for the absentee suspects, who include Dr. Richard Anane, former Minister for Roads and Transport and Member of Parliament (MP) for Nhyiaeso, Dr. Anthony Akoto Osei, former Minister of State at the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning and MP for Old Tafo, and Prof. George Gyan Baffuor, former deputy Minister of Finance and Economic Planning and Member of Parliament (MP) for Wenchi, told the court that the their clients were involved in parliamentary duties.
However, the court, presided over by Justice Bright Mensah, cautioned that parliamentary duties could not override the work of the court, adding that their frequent absence from court would not be tolerated in any form.
Kwadwo Otchere Mpiani, former Chief of Staff and Minister for Presidential Affairs, who was also not present, had sought permission to travel abroad for a medical checkup, and will be back within a week, leaving only Samuel Adolphus Kenneth Bernard Crabbe, former Greater Accra Regional Chairman of the New Patriotic Party (NPP) and President of Unger Oaks Limited, in the dock.
The court, however, adjourned hearing to December 20, 2010, to enable the Appeal Court decide on an appeal filed against the court’s refusal to grant the accused persons the right to pre-trial disclosures among other issues, which they contend would assist in putting up a strong defence in the case, which they sought from the prosecution.
The appeal court is scheduled to give its ruling on December 2, 2010.
The five accused persons including four others are standing trial for willfully causing financial loss to the state in the sale of Ghana Airways, which is currently operating as Ghana International Airlines Limited (GIAL).
The four other accused persons, who are said to be at large, include Ralph Atkin, Kirk Heaton, Albert Vitalis, all Americans from the State of Utah, and Brian Bresbory, a South African/European, who are all minority shareholders in GIAL.
The accused persons, whose alleged inactions in the sale of the defunct Ghana Airways resulted in the loss of over US$58 million to the state, are standing 22 counts of conspiracy, willfully causing financial loss to the state, defrauding by false pretences, deceit of public officer, misapplication of state funds, opening of offshore account without authority from the Bank of Ghana and stealing.
They have pleaded not guilty to all the charges leveled against them, and have been admitted to self-recognisance bail, in the sum of GH¢300,000 each.