Judge cautions prosecution over Barker-Vormawor trial

BY: Della Russel Ocloo, ASHAIMAN
Convener of the #FixTheCountry Movement, Oliver Barker-Vormawor
Convener of the #FixTheCountry Movement, Oliver Barker-Vormawor

The Judge hearing the treason felony charge brought against a Convener of the #FixTheCountry Movement, Oliver Barker-Vormawor, on Tuesday, March 29, 2022 asked state prosecutors to attach more seriousness to the case.

Mrs Eleanor Kakra Barnes-Botchway maintained that the case is of public interest and the methods employed by the state by way of asking for repetitive adjournments at every court sitting were unacceptable.

"If the state is not ready to proceed with the case, I must be informed so I can know the way forward, because this practice of coming to court with one excuse after the other, to ask for adjournment all the time, I am not happy about it”- Mrs Barnes-Botchway said.

Her comments followed a request by the Prosecutor, DSP Sylvester Asare for the case to be adjourned to April 26, 2022, to allow the prosecution to put its house in order to file the requisite Bill of Indictment (BI) and summary of evidence against the accused person.

According to DSP Asare, the prosecution has agreed with the legal representatives of the accused person for a long adjournment to enable them file the Bill of Indictment.

The Judge said, “It has become the norm that anytime indictable offences are being heard, prosecution for most of the time just appear to be interested in taking new dates at each sitting,” Mrs Barnes-Botchway bemoaned.

“I will urge you (prosecution) to speed up work on the BI so it can be ready by the next adjourned date,” the Judge said, and adjourned the case to April 26, 2022.

Charge                                                                                                                                                                            Mr. Barker-Vormawor who is on a GH¢2 million bail has been charged with the offence over an alleged Facebook post he made in connection with governments proposed electronic transactions levy (E-Levy).

He was arrested on February 11, 2022 at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA) when he arrived in the country for a series of public engagements with some members of the diplomatic community.

Mr. Barker-Vormawor prior to being granted bail by a Tema High Court presided over by Justice Daniel Mensah after over a month in detention filed processes at the High Court and the Supreme Court to get the police to put him before court having been remanded by the Ashaiman District Court which declined jurisdiction on the case when he was presented before that court on Monday, February 14, 2022.

His legal team led by Mr. Akoto Ampaw, Dr Justice Srem-Sai and Samuel Alersu-Dordzi had considered his detention as a violation of his right to liberty.

Bail Application
However, the Tema High Court on Wednesday, March 16, 2022 upheld his bail application by dismissing the Attorney General's opposition that Mr. Barker-Vormawor had no fixed place of abode and was a flight risk and might not present himself for trial.

His lawyers had argued that the evidence presented by the state did not support the facts although state prosecutors had told the court that they had enough evidence to support the charges against Mr. Barker-Vormawor.

His lead counsel, Mr. Akoto Ampaw had however maintained that charges brought against Mr. Barker-Vormawor were "cynical" and amount to "bad faith" on the part of the prosecution.

Mr. Ampaw also wondered why the prosecution, which initially charged Barker-Vormawor for offensive conduct conducive to the breach of the peace, which is a misdemeanor and took a statement from him to that effect would show up in court with the charge of treason felony.