16th July 2024

Dr. Cassiel Ato Forson, Minority Leader

In a unanimous judgment, the Court of Appeal has thrown out an appeal filed by the first accused person in the fake ambulance trial, Dr. Cassiel Ato Forson.

The accused, who is the Minority Leader and former Deputy Minister of Finance, had claimed that the charges brought against him by the State were defective.

Dr. Ato Forson had contended that the charges of wilfully causing financial loss to the State and intentionally misapplying public property, preferred against him by the State, were defective for failing to disclose sufficient particulars.

However, in its ruling, the Court, constituted by Bright Mensah JA (Presiding), Bartels-Kodwo J.A. and Amaleboba J.A., dismissed the appeal as “without merit”.

Judgement

In its judgment, the Court analysed the rules of the Court of Appeal as well as Ghanaian cases on what constitutes a proper charge.

The court observed that in the appeal brought by Dr Ato Forson, the issue he had with the charges was with the expression “without due cause and authorisation.”

The court stated that it was of the opinion that it was “wrong to isolate phrases or words contained in a charge sheet and claim that those words are vague or do not contain sufficient meaning. It is one of the cardinal rules of interpretation in our profession that documents should be read as a whole when being interpreted.”

The court held that with this in mind, what the appellant should be concerned about is: “Cassiel Ato Forson between August 2014 and April 2016 wilfully caused financial loss to the Republic by authorising irrevocable letters of credit valued at €3,950,000 to be established out of which payments amounting to €2,370,000 were made to Big Sea General Trading Ltd of Dubai for the supply of vehicles purporting to be ambulances without due cause.

It added that authorisation” and “Cassiel Ato Forson in 2014 in Accra in the Greater Accra Region of the Republic of Ghana intentionally misapplied the sum of €2,370,000 being public property by causing irrevocable Letters of Credit to be established against the budget of the Ministry of Health in favour of Big Sea General Trading Ltd of Dubai for the supply of vehicles purporting to be ambulances without due cause and authorisation,” and not just the words “without due cause and authorisation.”

Having examined the charges under scrutiny, the Court finally held that the charges brought against the accused persons “contain sufficient particulars as required under Article 19(2)(d) of the 1992 Constitution and Section 112(4) of Act 30.”

Dr. Ato Forson was represented by his counsel, Dr. Abdul Bassit Aziz Bamba.

Application

The appellant had initially filed an application at the High Court seeking to strike out the charges, claiming that they had failed to disclose sufficient particulars to warrant the trial proceeding.

The High Court dismissed the application. Following this dismissal, lawyers for Dr Ato Forson filed an appeal alleging, among other things, that “the High Court judge erred in holding that the particulars of offences of Counts 1 and 5 contain sufficient information on the specific acts engaged in by the 1st Accused/Appellant that manifest ‘without due cause and authorisation’ as contained in Counts 1 and 5 of the charge sheet.”

The appeal came up for hearing, and was vigorously contested by the Attorney-General, represented by Principal State Attorney Richard Gyambiby, who argued that the Republic had discharged its obligations required by law in putting together the charge sheet.

He further contended that in drafting the charge sheet, they had considered only the elements of the offences with which the accused are charged, as required by law.

According to the Court of Appeal, the State broke down the charges brought against the accused persons before concluding that the charges were properly filed.

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