Lawyer Baffour Gyau Bonsu Ashia, the lead counsel for Ato Essien, has expressed his excitement over the decision of the court to grant them a 20-day ultimatum to conclude negotiations for compensation with the state. He thus, indicated their readiness to meet the deadline to avoid further complexities.
The Commercial Division of the Accra High Court has ordered former Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of defunct Capital Bank, William Ato Essien, to conclude negotiations within the specified days, or risk mounting the docket to open his defence on November 4, should he be unable to reach an agreement with the prosecutor.
This was after William Ato Essien’s lawyers and the prosecutor agreed to resume negotiations under Section 35 of the Courts Act (Reparation and Restitution).
Mr. Essien, together with Tetteh Nettey and Fitzgerald Odonkor, have been asked to open their defence to respond to some 23 charges, including stealing.
In court, Ato Essien’s counsel, Lawyer Baffour Gyau Bonsu Ashia, holding Thaddeus Sory’s brief, told the Court that they have decided to re-activate Section 35 of the Courts Act with the prosecutor.
“My Lord, before the trial commenced in this court, the first accused person made an application in this court to take advantage of the provision in Section 35 of the Courts Act. My Lord, we started discussions with the prosecution but the discussion suffered some delays and so it came to a temporary halt.
“We have sent a letter to the prosecutor, requesting that discussions should resume. We have received a response from the prosecutor indicating their willingness to afford us the opportunity. It is our humble prayer that this court leans towards us and afford us the opportunity”.Lawyer Baffour Gyau Bonsu Ashia
Mrs Marina Appiah-Opare, the Chief State Attorney representing the state, confirmed to the court the state’s willingness to resume negotiations with the first accused.
“Indeed, we have received a request from the first accused person through his counsel for the resumption of discussions in respect of their desire to take advantage of Section 35 of the courts act and make restitution.
“We are open to resuming the said discussion and we have duly informed counsel for the first accused person. We are saying that the said discussion we hope should not take more than two weeks and therefore if this court is minded to grant an adjournment, it should be two weeks.”Mrs Marina Appiah-Opare
Meanwhile, the presiding judge Justice Eric Kyei Baffour, Justice of the Court of Appeal sitting with additional responsibility as a High Court judge, adjourned the case to November 4 for the parties to conclude negotiations.
“As the learned Chief State Attorney has confirmed to the court that the first accused is still desirous of reaping the benefit of Section 35 of the courts act, Act 459 (1994) in terms of proposal to pay compensation and reparation to the republic for whatever alleged losses caused the Republic, I have carefully considered the plea and have also balanced it against the need not to needlessly or ad-infinitum hold in abeyance the trial, which he is supposed to open his defence after prosecution had called 17 witnesses and closed its case.
“Weighing these two competing interests and balancing same, I am of the view that, not more than 20 days adjournment to enable the parties conclude negotiations would be an apt time. If that is not achieved, no injustice at all would be occasioned the first accused if the trial were to resume while the parties attempt to conclude the negotiations.
“Accordingly, the court will proceed with the trial on the next adjourned date even if there is no agreement in order not to breach the first accused person’s right to fair trial within a reasonable time as spelt out by the constitution.”Justice Eric Kyei Baffour