Tempers Flare In Court Over Case Involving Prez Kufuor's Accident
Tempers Flare In Court Over Case Involving Prez Kufuor's Accident Website
Lawyers in the accident case involving President J. A. Kufuor last Thursday engaged in heated arguments laced with vituperations that sent tempers flaring at the Accra Fast Track High Court. The trial judge, Mr Justice EK Ayebi, had to intervene to calm the cross-fire but that was not without some difficulty as he thought that the acting Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Ms Gertrude Aikins, and Mr Kwame Boafo Akuffo, counsel for the defence, were enemies. "Are you enemies? I don't like what you people are doing," the judge reminded the counsel and asked them to be mindful of the ethics of the Bar. The tense atmosphere was, somehow, defused by the poor translation of the proceedings into Twi by a court interpreter whose 'butchering' of both the Twi and English languages sent the packed court laughing uncontrollably. Mr Justice Ayebi, on occasions, reminded the interpreter to do the right translation of what had been said. The stage was set when Mr Akuffo, after announcing himself, accused the DPP of lying to the court at the last sitting that she was unwell and, therefore, needed a two-week adjournment. According to counsel, he would not have spoken but for the fact that his client was still in custody and that Ms Aikins, after taking the adjournment, was seen in the Court of Appeal three days later standing on her feet for more than two and a half hours in the case involving the jailed Member of Parliament (MP) for Keta, Dan Abodakpi. Quickly, the judge drew counsel's attention to the fact that he could not make that kind of argument just because Ms Aikins was in court and he should be circumspect about how he made such statements. Ms Aikins said she could not leave the matter to rest, since it hinged on her integrity and sought leave from the court to order the Registrar of the Court of Appeal to furnish it with what transpired in the former MP's case. Osei was first arraigned before the Motor Court on November 16, 2007 and remanded. He was discharged by the court on Thursday, December 20, 2007 after the prosecution had filed a nolle prosequi (unwilling to prosecute) but he was rearrested when he stepped out of the court and put before the Fast Track High Court on six counts. Osei now faces seven counts of use of narcotic drugs, dangerous driving, negligently causing harm, driving under the influence of alcohol, failing to give way to a Presidential convoy and failing to effect change of ownership of vehicle, to which he has pleaded not guilty. Around 11.30 a.m. on November 14, 2007, Osei, who was driving a Mercedes Benz SE 500 saloon car in the inner lane along the Liberation Link from the direction of Aviance towards the 37 Military 'Hospital, drove into the rear side of the President's vehicle, in spite of the fact that other motorists had been stopped to allow the President's convoy to pass. The driver of the President's car and the driver of a VW saloon car were treated and discharged, while Osei was admitted for treatment. The President escaped unhurt. When the dust settled, Rev King Joe Osei Kuffuor, the man whose car was affected by the accident, continued his testimony under cross-examination from Mr Akuffo. The witness denied that he had been coached. to testify in order to put the accused person in trouble, since his evidence was not the-.accurate recollection of the event. Another witness, ASP Emmanuel Raymond Asante of the VIP Protection Unit also testified and said that on the day of the accident, he was in the President's house and that all the vehicles in the Presidential convoy, including that of the President, had their sirens on. He said once the sirens were working they were uninterrupted until the convoy reached the Castle at Osu. According to ASP Asante, although he was in the President's house when the convoy moved he was not in a position to say anything about what happened, since he was not present at the scene of the accident. The cross-fire was reignited when Mr Akuffo wanted to ask the witness a question relating to the movement of the President's convoy after the accident but Ms Aikins objected and her objection was sustained. Mr Emmanuel Osafo Addo, the President's driver, in his evidence, said he knew the accused person because for about four years he had been visiting the President's house. He said on the day of the accident, he was on his normal driving duty but on reaching the Opeibea intersection he saw the black Benz but he remained focused. However, he said that in his effort to swerve the Benz car, the President's car was hit by the Benz at the rear, making it somersault. Mr Addo said he did not see the accused person immediately before and after the accident because before the accident he had seen a black Benz car while the driver was brought to the hospital on a stretcher. He described as false any information that he and Rev Kuffuor were taken in an ambulance to hospital because he was taken to hospital in a police patrol vehicle.