Retired Supreme Court judge, Justice Clemence Jackson Honyenuga has cast doubt on Dr. Stephen Opuni’s medical report, and has therefore summoned the medical director who operated on him to give detailed accounts of the accused’s medical condition.
Dr. Opuni is said to have undergone four different surgeries on his left eye in late September and was given six weeks to rest the left eye to ensure proper healing.
This was brought to the attention of the court on Tuesday, with the necessary documents, but the judge didn’t appear convinced.
Justice Honyenuga therefore ordered the medical director to appear in court on the next adjourned date with all the records on Dr. Opuni.
“The Registrar of this Court is to ensure that this order is served on the said medical director on his address as stated on the letter. In the circumstances, I will adjourn this matter to Monday 17th October 2022 at 10 am”.
The trial was to have resumed on October 3 after the two-month legal vacation, but sitting was adjourned twice on the behest of the trial judge who was indisposed.
When the case was called on October 11 for the seventh defence witness to mount the box for cross-examination to continue, the lead counsel for Dr Opuni, Mr Samuel Codjoe informed the court that the first accused (Dr. Opuni) was not in court due to the fact that he had surgery on his eyes.
“My lord we have given this court a copy of the medical report indicating that he has had four different surgeries on his eyes. My lord, as indicated in the medical report, he has been given six weeks to enable his left eyes to heal.
“”My lord, yesterday I showed the prosecution the report but because it is a confidential document I did not give them a hard copy of the actual medical report. My lord, this explains the absence of first accused in court. My lord, as a results of his absence due to ill health, we pray that this court adjourn this case till the six weeks notice.”
Mr Samuel Codjoe also drew the attention of the court that his client wants to exercise his right under Article 19 (3), which states that the trial of a person charged with a criminal offence shall take place in his presence, stressing that Dr. Opuni “wants to be present during the trial. Unfortunately, he is unable to so due to ill health”.
But Chief State Attorney, Evelyn Keelson wants the court to go ahead with the hearing without the first accused being present physically.
Even though she admitted seeing the medical report confirming that Dr. Opuni “needs six weeks to rest the eye for proper healing. “Respectfully my lord, this statement by the medical director is not binding on this honourable court.”
While praying to the court to invite the medical director to give further and better particulars , Evelyn Keelson suggested, “my lord in the alternative, this court can sit virtually to accommodate the first accused.”
But Mr. Codjoe felt the proposal by prosecution would not even be entertained under a military rule, no less m a democratic dispensation.
“My lord what is unfortunate is that the prosecution is saying the first accused who is sick and is not supposed to engage in any activity should sit in a virtual trial. So he should lie down or what? My lord, this is unacceptable even in military regimes,” the lawyer emphasized, and made reference to the Dr. Cassiel Ato Forson’s case which has been adjourned for about five months.
Sit-in counsel for the second and third accused persons, lawyer Emmanuel Kumadzey pointed out that since the first accused did not elect to absent himself, and considering the nature of the case, he wanted the case adjourned because “we will want the first accused to be present”.
Justice Clemence Honyenuga then ruled that, “in order to clear any doubts about the medical report before this court”, the medical director should appear before the court “with all the records on the first accused”.
Justice Clemence Honyenuga who recently retired from the Supreme Court, but given “limited time” by the Chief Justice to dispose of the case, is sitting with additional responsibility as a High Court judge.
Dr. Stephen Opuni, Seidu Agongo and Agricult Ghana Ltd are currently facing about 24 combined charges: Abetment of crime, defrauding by false pretence, contravention of the Public Procurement Act, willfully causing financial loss to the state, manufacturing fertilizer without registration, selling misbranded fertilizer and selling adulterated fertilizer.