Evelyn Keelson makes mockery of Dr. Opuni’s medical condition in open court?

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Chief State Attorney, Evelyn Keelson appears to be poking fun at the health condition of Dr. Stephen Opuni as she pushes for the man who is recovering from a retinal surgery to wear dark glasses and report to court four times a week.

The former COCOBOD Chief Executive who is standing trial together with businessman Seidu Agongo had four surgeries on his left eye about three weeks ago and has been given a six-week excuse duty.

Whilst the trial judge, Justice Clemence Honyenuga felt “constrained” by the compelling expert account of the medical director who issued the excuse notice, to even shelve his initial plan of holding a virtual trial, let alone a physical trial, the Chief State Attorney would not budge.
According to the medical expert, patients who undergo retinal operations need a maximum of six months to completely heal.

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“The healing process of epiretinal membrane surgery is between three and six months. Anybody here can check the healing process online,” he told the court on October 17, 2022.

The medical director was summoned by the High Court to justify the excuse notice upon a request by the Chief State Attorney for the medical director to give further and better particulars about Dr. Opuni’s health.

Early on, the medical director who is an opthalmologist (an eye surgeon) with several decades of experience told the court the precarious situation Dr. Opuni was facing.

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“He was given post operative advice for the six weeks excuse duty, the first 14 days of the six weeks he had to stay head down because of the gas component. A few days after the operation, he developed high intraocular pressure on the operated left eye and severe photophobia.”

According to him, the intraocular pressure was managed with glaucoma medication, and he was advised to wear dark glasses and avoid light. He has to go for weekly check up for the intraocular pressure to be managed.

The court admitted into evidence the medical folder of Dr. Opuni as well as two different Optical Coherence Tomography (OCT) test results.

The medical expert said if the high pressure was not managed properly it would lead to Dr. Opuni going blind. “The whole eye can become like stone, so for that reason he was asked to come every week for us to control the eye pressure.”

But the Chief State Attorney Evelyn Keelson suggested, during cross examination, that once Dr. Opuni was able to visit the clinic every week he could attend to other duties as well.

“So when he wears his dark glasses he can attend to duties he is mandated to attend to without any harm,” she charged.

But the medical director calmly explained to her that: “He wears the dark glasses because of the photophobia. It can’t correlate the eye, why because his natural lens is on the right eye, but the left is artificial lens. The capacity of the artificial lens to absorb light is zero. So focusing on bright things it cannot be comfortable.

All the same, the six weeks is not for the photophobia, it is the retina; with the fragility of the retina anything can happen.”
The medical director whose facility gets referrals from The Gambia, Burkina Faso, Togo, Benin etc went on to admonish patients to adhere strictly to post operative advice.

He recalled how a Gambian patient he treated went strolling at a beach even after six weeks but nearly got him blind after exposure to stress.

Nonetheless, Evelyn Keelson appeared unsympathetic and pressed further.

“I am putting it to you that the same way Dr. Opuni can attend to clinic, he can attend court in this courtroom and sit quietly with his shades without any damages to his retina.”

The medical director insisted that the excuse notice was to ensure proper healing “and not for the patient to blame the surgeon or the whole clinic” if something goes wrong.

He further stated that the six weeks notice was crucial and ought to be observed in every surgery of the retina.

Though the medical director had stated that he assessed and identified the problem with Dr. Opuni and booked him for the surgery, and was also responsible for managing the post operative, the Chief State Attorney still contested that he had “no capacity to give the court any expert opinion” because the surgery was not carried out by himself.

But the medical director maintained that the position of the Chief State Attorney was due to the fact that she doesn’t understand who an opthalmologist is.

Both counsel for Dr. Opuni and Seidu Agongo who earlier stated that it was unhealthy to discuss someone’s health status in public, and nothing that the cross examination of the medical director had no bearing on the substantive case, declined when they were invited by the judge to take their turn. Counsel for Dr. Opuni, lawyer Samuel Codjoe had previously advised Evelyn Keelson that “no one has monopoly over good health”.

Meanwhile, Justice Clemence Honyenuga has granted the six weeks excuse notice and adjourned the case to November 7.
The retired judge also admitted, “I had wanted to do virtual for him (Dr. Opuni) to observe the proceedings but I am constrained after hearing the medical director”.

The former COCOBOD Chief Executive, Dr. Stephen Opuni and businessman Seidu Agongo as well as Agricult Ghana Limited, have been facing 27 charges, including defrauding by false pretences, willfully causing financial loss to the state, corruption by public officers and contravention of the Public Procurement Act in the purchase of Lithovit liquid fertiliser between 2014 and 2016.

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

Justice Clemence Jackson Honyenuga who is hearing the case retired from the Supreme Court in September 2022, but has been given “limited time” by the Chief Justice to dispose of the case at the High Court.

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