Dr Cassiel Ato Forson  — The Minority Leader
Dr Cassiel Ato Forson — The Minority Leader
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Ambulance trial: Ato Forson petitions CJ for live broadcast of case

The Minority Leader, Dr Cassiel Ato Forson, has petitioned the Chief Justice, Justice Gertrude Sackey Torkonoo, for a live broadcast of the trial in which he and a businessman has been accused of causing financial loss of €2.37 million to the state over an ambulance deal. 

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A letter titled, “Request for full media access, including live broadcast of subsequent court proceedings”, emanating from his lawyer, Dr Abdul Baasit Aziz Bamba’s chambers, said the request is “in the light of recent developments that have significantly impacted public perception of the case and the administration of justice”.

Already, the presiding judge, Justice Afia Serwah Asare-Botwe, has since the inception of the trial, given access to journalists to cover the trial but Ato Forson is seeking a live broadcast of the case.

The trial of the Minority Leader and former Deputy Finance Minister has been characterised by numerous public discourse after the businessman in the case, Richard Jakpa, had alleged during cross-examination that the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice had been calling him at odd hours.

But the judge has, since, warned both the prosecution and defence to be responsible in their comments about the case. 

Not guilty

The two have been accused of causing a financial loss of €2.37 million to the state in a deal to purchase 200 ambulances for the country between 2014 and 2016. They have pleaded not guilty to counts of wilfully causing financial loss to the state, abetment to wilfully causing financial loss to the state, contravention of the Public Procurement Act and intentionally misapplying public property.

Prosecution’s facts

Per the A-G’s facts accompanying the charge sheet, in 2009 while delivering the State of the Nation Address, the then President, Prof. John Evans Atta Mills, indicated that new ambulances would be purchased to expand the operations of the National Ambulance Service.

Jakpa, who is a local representative of Big Sea General Trading Limited, a company based in Dubai, subsequently approached the Ministry of Health with a proposal that he had arranged for finance from Stanbic Bank for the supply of 200 ambulances to the government.

Parliament approved the financing agreement between the government and Stanbic Bank. According to the facts, on November 19, 2012, a former Director of the Ministry of Health wrote to the Public Procurement Authority (PPA) seeking approval to engage Big Sea through single sourcing for the supply of the 200 ambulances.

They added that on August 7, 2014, Dr Forson wrote to the Bank of Ghana for letters of credit covering €3.95 million for the supply of 50 ambulances in favour of Big Sea. The letters of credit were accordingly released to Big Sea.

The facts said 30 ambulances were purchased at a sum of €2.37 million but all were found not to have met ambulance specifications, and therefore “not fit for purpose.”

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