Judge expresses surprised at turn of events in Opuni trial

Dr Stephen Opuni
Dr Stephen Opuni

Justice Clemence Jackson Honyenuga, the judge hearing the case involving Dr Stephen Opuni, Seidu Agongo and one other, has expressed surprised at the turn of events – the indisposition of the second defence witness.

The judge said he was surprised because the witness looked very energetic two days ago.

Mr Samuel Torbi, the Second Defence Witness for Dr Opuni gave his evidence in chief through a Twi interpreter and was initially crossed examined by Counsel for Agongo and the State on May 16, 2022.

Dr Opuni and Mr Agongo are facing 27 charges, including defrauding by false pretences, willfully causing financial loss to the State, money laundering, corruption by a public officer and contravention of the Public Procurement Act.

They have both pleaded not guilty to the charges and are on a GH¢300,000.00 self-recognisance bail each.

The case was adjourned to Wednesday May 18, 2022, for the State to continue with its cross examination but when the matter was called Mr Samuel Codjoe, Counsel for Dr Opuni told the court that the witness had sent him an excuse duty from Ridge Hospital.

According to the excuse duty, the witness was admitted at the emergency ward of the Hospital.

Justice Honyenuga said, “It seems witnesses for Dr Opuni always fall sick during cross examination.”

The judge said he remembered the court had to adjourn the case for two weeks because Mr Charles Dodoo, the first defence witness of Dr Opuni, was said to be sick and was on admission.

“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,” he said.

He said the case had been going for four years without ending, so it was very unfortunate that Mr Torbi had to suffer the same fate as Mr Dodoo.

The case was adjourned to May 23, 2022, for continuation.

Earlier, Mr Codjoe said he called the witness in the morning after receiving the excuse duty and he confirmed that he was on admission at the Hospital.

He said the witness also informed him that Doctors at the facility would want to conduct further tests on him and that he was likely to be discharged at the weekend.

 “I asked for a medical report so that I can show it to the court, but he informed me that they do not give the patient medical records to the court unless it is an order from the court,” he added.

 He said the witness had informed him of what he was suffering from but: “I cannot disclose it in open court because of confidentiality but I can inform the court in chambers.”

Mrs Evelyn Keelson, Chief State Attorney, said he was shown a copy of the excuse duty of the witness by the other party.

She also expressed surprise at reports that the witness was unwell after he “appeared in very good health just a couple of days ago.” 

She said the prosecution was ready to proceed with its cross examination but unfortunately, the witness was not available. 

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