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Call the next witness or take the stand – Court orders Dr. Opuni

The trial involving former Chief Executive of Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), Dr. Stephen Kwabena Opuni, and two others, accused of causing financial loss of over GH¢271 million to the state, is set to proceed with either Dr. Opuni or his next available witness in the witness box tomorrow, July 27.

This follows a ruling made by Justice Aboagye Tandoh, the newly assigned judge taking over the case that has been ongoing since 2018.

Justice Tandoh made the ruling yesterday after adopting the record of proceedings based on an order from the Court of Appeal earlier this year.

During the proceedings, Dr. Opuni’s lawyer, Samuel Cudjoe, explained that their seventh witness, expected for cross-examination, had traveled to England to attend his son’s graduation, making it impossible for them to present the witness.

However, the state, represented by Principal State Attorney Stella Ohene Appiah, argued that Dr. Opuni had indicated his intention to call eight witnesses, including himself. Therefore, the next available witness should take the stand to prevent further delays.

In his ruling, Justice Tandoh emphasized that the trial had already been ongoing for several years, and each party should have access to the record of proceedings.

He directed all parties to apply for the record of proceedings before proceeding with the trial.

“The adoption is the sole duty of the court and they have been duly adopted,” Justice Tandoh stated.

Regarding the unavailability of the seventh defense witness, the judge noted that there was no evidence to determine whether the witness would be available in the jurisdiction anytime soon. He advised all parties to prepare their witnesses in advance to ensure an effective and efficient trial.

“Can we, therefore, suspend to await the witness whose availability is uncertain because counsel has not made any contact with him yet, the answer is in the negative.”

The trial will continue with either Dr. Opuni or the next available witness on Thursday, July 27, 2023.

Further dates for the cross-examination of the seventh defense witness will be given on Monday, July 31, 2023.

Source: ghanaweb.com

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