Samuel Codjoe, counsel for the former Chief Executive (CE) of Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Dr. Stephen Kwabena Opuni, has, for the second time, presented excuse duty for another witness testifying on behalf of his client.
The excuse duty presented to the court, presided over by Justice Clemence Honyenuga, was not specific on the health condition of the second defense witness (DW2), Samuel Torbie, but only claimed the latter had been admitted at the Greater Accra Regional Hospital or Ridge Hospital.
Mr. Codjoe told the court that he received the letter on Tuesday evening through another person, indicating that DW2 was on admission at the Emergency Ward of the Ridge Hospital.
He said: “I called him this morning after I opened and read the content of the envelope, which was addressed to me, and he confirmed that presently he is at the hospital, and he is on admission to the said Emergency Ward.
“He also informed me that the doctors are saying that they want to conduct further tests on him, and they have assured him that after they finished with this test, he will be released at the weekend.”
The counsel further told the court that when he asked him (Opun) to get a medical report from the hospital for it to be shown to the court, the witness said the hospital doesn’t give the patient’s medical records to the court, unless it requests for the records by order.
According to him, the witness had disclosed the disease he was suffering to him, and had informed the court in Chambers, but cannot do the same in the open due to concerns of confidentiality.
But, he added that “I informed my learned friends at the Bar this morning of this development, and gave them photocopies of the Ridge Hospital excuse duty indicating that he is on admission.”
The prosecution, led by the Senior State Attorney (SSA), Evelyn Keelson, responded that even though she has been shown a copy of the excuse duty of the witness by Mr. Codjoe, she was utterly shocked.
“Indeed, my Lord, I expressed my surprise at the sudden turn of events, since the witness appeared to be in very good health just a couple of days ago. I also asked my learned friend (Mr. Codjoe) why the excuse duty does not indicate the ailment the witness is suffering from, and he told me that it is as a result of the issues of confidentiality. My Lord, we were ready to proceed with our cross-examination this morning, but unfortunately, the witness is not available.”
Justice Honyenuga, on his part, also said he was equally surprised at the turn of events, because the witness looked very energetic and did not look like somebody who could fall back within two days.
This, he said, was that it seemed the witnesses for the first accused always fall sick during cross-examination, adding, “I remember we had to adjourn this case for two whole weeks because of DW1 (Mr. Dodoo), who was allegedly sick and was on admission.”
The judge continued that “I am, again, equally surprised at the excuse duty form, because no ailment has been stated on it, because there is nothing hidden before the court, in terms of ailment or otherwise.”
His Lordship lamented that the case had been traveling for almost four years without an ending in sight, and it was unfortunate that DW2 (Torbie) would also suffer the same fate as DW1.
He, therefore, adjourned the case to May 23 for continuation.