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Ambulance case: Court asks Dr. Ato Forson to open defence

Ato Forson Minority
Dr. Cassiel Ato Baah Forson.

By Beatrice Oppon

The Accra High Court has ordered Minority Leader in Parliament Cassiel Ato Forson and two others to open their defence in the trial over the purchase of some ambulances.

The Court held that a prima facie case has been established against them for which they have to answer.

Dr. Forson, together with a former Chief Director of the Ministry of Health, Sylvester Anemana and a Businessman,  Richard Jakpa have been accused of causing financial loss to the State to the tune of 2.37 million Euros in the deal to purchase some Ambulances for the country between 2014 and 2016.

The three accused persons, Dr. Cassiel Ato Forson, Sylvester Anemana and Richard Jakpa filed submissions of no case after the prosecution closed its case after calling five witnesses.

Dr. Ato Forson contended that the prosecution failed to adduce any cogent evidence to compel him to put up a defence. His Lawyer, Dr. Abdul Baasit Aziz Bamba submitted that the letter bearing the signature of Dr. Ato Forson asking for the establishment of the Letters of Credit, LC, were transmitted to Bank of Ghana under the authority and on behalf of the then Minister of Finance Seth Terkper.

The Lawyer further argued that Mr.  Terkper confirmed in an exhibit before the Court that it was the Ministry that requested the establishment of the LC and would amount to a travesty of justice if Dr. Ato Forson is held liable for payments he did not make or authorized.

It was the case of Mr. Anemana that at the time those Letters of Credit were issued he had been transferred from the Ministry and cannot be held responsible.

Mr. Jakpa also argued that there is nothing to show that he did anything fraudulent. He said he was just an agent and did nothing reckless.

The Attorney General however argued that the Prosecution had been able to establish a prima facie case against the accused persons.

The State contended that evidence adduced so far indicates that the actions of Dr. Ato Forson directly led to financial loss to the State in the purchase of the vehicles purporting to be ambulances.

Justice Afia Serwah Asare-Botwe held that in the submissions of the accused persons, they all agreed that the Ambulances were defective and not fit for purpose.

She said if the State has spent money to procure Ambulances that cannot be used, then a prima facie case has been made.

She also ruled that Dr. Ato Forson has to prove that he had authorization for the Letters of Credit, contrary to the claims of the prosecution.

The Court held that the prosecution has discharged its burden of prima facie for him to answer.

Hearing has been adjourned to April 13, 2023.

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