The Court of Appeal has dismissed an application by the Member of Parliament of Assin North, James Gyakye Quayson, seeking to put his trial on hold.
Mr Quayson who is on trial over accusation of perjury and forgery wanted the Court of Appeal to halt his trial until the determination of his appeal challenging the trial high court’s decision to hear the case on a daily basis.
However, in a unanimous decision yesterday dismissing the application for a stay of proceedings, a three-member panel of the court held that the MP failed to demonstrate any exceptional circumstances to warrant the granting of a stay of proceedings.
It was the considered view of the court that Mr Quayson could not prove how the daily hearing of the trial affected his right to fair hearing enshrined in the 1992 Constitution.
“The trial judge acted within the remit of the law to hear the case day by day.
We are unable to agree with counsel that the applicant’s right to a fair trial has been violated,” the court held.
With regard to some alleged prejudicial comments made by the Attorney-General (A-G) and President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, the court held that those comments were extra-judicial comments which were not relevant to the case, and therefore the trial High Court was not under any obligation to consider them.
“The applicant has not been able to demonstrate that the order by the trial court was arbitrary, capricious and bias,” the court held.
The three-member panel was presided over by Justice Henry Kwofi, with Justices Afia Serwaa Asare Botwe and Agyei Frimpong as the members.
Making a case for the application for a stay of proceedings, counsel for Mr Quayson, Tsatsu Tsikata, argued that the decision by the High Court to hear the case on a daily basis had violated his client’s right to a fair trial as protected by Article 19 of the 1992 Constitution.
Counsel was of the contention that hearing the trial daily was against his client’s right because full disclosure by the prosecution which was part of a requirement for fair trial had not been met in the trial.
“The fact of the matter is that the witness has referred to attachments to a witness statement which we have not been provided.
It is an exceptional circumstance when a court has a duty to ensure a fair trial but the court continues the trial without a matter fundamental as disclosures being properly administered,’ counsel said.
Disclosures, counsel said, were a fundamental element of fair trial and a constitutional right that had been given judicial blessings by the Supreme Court in the landmark Eugene Baffoe –Bonnie case.
In his response opposing the application, the A-G, Godfred Yeboah Dame, argued that the application had no merit since the applicant had failed to show how the ruling by the trial High Court would affect his right to a fair trial.
The A-G described the application as premature, arguing that the trial court was yet to even make a determination on whether or not there was a case for Mr Quayson to answer for him to open his defence.
He was of the contention that the true motive behind the application was the MP’s attempt to avoid a trial, a situation which was unconstitutional.
“I submit that respectfully it is completely untenable for a person in Ghana to think he cannot be put before trial,” the A-G argued.
Mr Quayson is facing charges of forgery and perjury in relation to certain alleged offences in the run-up to the 2020 Assin North parliamentary election.
He has pleaded not guilty to five counts of forgery of passport or travel certificate, knowingly making a false statutory declaration, perjury and false declaration for office.
It is the case of the prosecution that Mr Quayson allegedly made a false statement to the Passport Office that he did not hold a passport to another country when he applied for a Ghanaian Passport.
In addition, the prosecution has accused Mr Quayson of making a false declaration to the Electoral Commission (EC) to the effect that he (Quayson) did not owe any allegiance to a foreign country when he filed to contest as a candidate for the Assin North seat.