Ambulance Trial: Attorney General challenges admissibility of recording for Cross-Examination


On Thursday, June 13, the High Court in Accra is set to rule on the admissibility of an audio recording featuring a conversation between Godfred Yeboah Dame and Richard Jakpa, the third accused in the ongoing ambulance case. This follows an attempt by lawyers for minority leader Dr. Cassiel Ato Forson to use the audio to cross-examine Jakpa regarding his allegations that the Attorney General had contacted him at unusual hours to implicate Ato Forson.


**Similarity of the Audio**


Before the court session, the audio was provided to all parties except Jakpa’s lawyers. When played in open court, Justice Afia Serwah Asare-Botwe requested the tape to be played to ensure “if what was served is the same as the one before the court and if the audio is admissible.” The prosecution confirmed that the audio matched the one they had received and the one submitted for a previous mistrial application, which the court had dismissed. Channelone TV reported that the tape closely resembled the one broadcast by the National Democratic Congress at a recent press conference.


**Objection by Prosecution**


The prosecution, however, objected to the audio’s admissibility as evidence. Yvonne Attakora-Obuobisa, the Director of Public Prosecutions, argued that while the tape had been admitted earlier to address the mistrial application, it was not relevant to the current trial. She stated, “negligible weight” had been placed on it previously, and now, under section 51 of the Evidence Act, it was “extremely irrelevant.”


Attakora-Obuobisa contended that the recording pertained to the issuance of letters of credit, issues already addressed through cross-examinations of witnesses like Alex Mould and Seth Terkper. She maintained, “the recording is of no significance whatsoever in arriving at any decision in respect of the actions of the accused person (Ato Forson) that has resulted in financial loss or the intentional misapplication of public funds.”


Moreover, Attakora-Obuobisa emphasized that for the audio to be admissible, it must not violate constitutional provisions, particularly Article 18(2) of the 1992 Constitution, which guarantees the right to privacy. She argued that the recording without consent did not meet the exception needed to prevent a crime and that Dr. Forson’s lawyers had failed to prove any crime the Attorney General was committing or about to commit.


**Response by Lawyers of Ato Forson**


Leading the defense, Dr. Abdul Bassit Aziz Bamba dismissed the prosecution’s objection as “frivolous, untenable and [to] be overruled.” He argued that the recording was relevant as it related to exhibits already before the court, specifically those involving the ambulance supply agreement and authorization. He posited that the tape shed light on when the Letters of Credit should have been established and whether any financial loss was caused to the state.


Dr. Bamba noted that the recording implicated Dr. Sylvester Anemana, the second accused until a Nolle Prosequi was entered in his case, as the one who authorized the Letters of Credit, not Dr. Ato Forson. He urged the court to admit the audio, emphasizing that the same reasons for which the court had previously assigned relevance to the tape for the mistrial application were still applicable.


He also argued that the conversation, being between Richard Jakpa and the Attorney General, a public officer, did not violate privacy rights and that the Attorney General was expected to act in good faith. According to Dr. Bamba, the Attorney General’s actions sought to undermine his client’s right to a fair trial, constituting interference with the administration of justice and amounting to contempt of court. He argued further that these actions related to a crime of willful suppression under sections 239 and 246 of the Criminal and Other Offences Act, 29.




After hearing arguments from both sides, Justice Afia Serwah Asare-Botwe adjourned the case to Thursday for a ruling on the audio’s admissibility.

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