Stay in your arena, we are not interested in your politics: Judge cautions parties over public comments in Ambulance case 
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Stay in your arena, we are not interested in your politics: Judge cautions parties over public comments in Ambulance case 

The judge hearing the case in which former Finance Minister and Minority Leader, Dr Cassiel Ato Forson and one other are standing trial for allegedly causing financial loss of €2.37 million to the state over an ambulance deal, has urged the parties to be responsible in their comments on the case. 

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Her comments follows the numerous public discourse on the case after the businessman in the case, Richard Jakpa, had alleged that the Attorney-General and Minister of Justice has been calling him at odd hours during cross-examination last Thursday. 

Justice Afia Serwah Asare-Botwe, who adjourned the matter to next Tuesday, June 4 to rule on an application filed by lawyers of Dr Ato Forson, observed that there was too much public commentary on the matter 

“If any one will make any commentary which looks like scandalize the court in any way it will not be well,” she said, cautioning both parties from the defence side and that of the prosecution. 

The judge, who told the lawyers that she had so far not heard anything prejudicial about discourses on the matter, it was important for persons making comments on the matter to be careful. 

“We live in a country where a lot of us don’t understand the workings of the law and the court even the most educated people may not actually understand the workings of the law and the court. 

“At the end of the day, the public does not have a decision to make, the only person who has a decision to make is yours truly (me) so please allow me to have peace of mind to be able to make a decision,” she said. 

She added that the legal profession was one which depends heavily on reputation, and that judges were people appointed on the basis of sound moral character and proven integrity adding: “Nobody should go about casting a slair on the judiciary, we are not interested in your politics”. 

“We are not interested in your politics, we’re not politicians and we don’t want to be, personally, we are not politicians and we don’t want to be, stay in your arena and let us stay in ours”, the judge said. 

Background 

The two have been accused of causing 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 willfully 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.

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, Dr Anemana 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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