An Accra High Court will on January 24, 2023, decide whether or not to hold the trial of former Chief Executive Officer of Microfinance and Small Loans Centre (MASLOC), Sedina Attionu Tamakloe, in her absence.
The court will on that day also decide on the fate of Gavivina Tamakloe and Alex Mould, her two sureties paying the GH¢5 million bail bond they executed for the accused person who has refused to return to Ghana to face trial.
The court had given the sureties a last opportunity to produce Ms. Attionu by January 17, 2023, or forfeit the bail bond.
The court, however, had to adjourn the case as a result of counsel for the accused filing a letter emanating from a hospital in the United States on the health of Ms. Attionu.
Justice Afia Serwah Asare-Botwe, a Court of Appeal judge sitting as an additional High Court judge, was not impressed with the letter which she said was not notarised, hence has no legal basis.
“The document is coming from a hospital I have never been. This document has not been notarised. This document does not satisfy the rules and does not serve any useful purpose,” the trial judge said.
An application filed by Dr. Aziz Bamba, counsel for Mr. Mould, was also not notarised, hence the court’s decision not to determine.
Dr. Bamba as well as Agbesi Dzkpasu, counsel for Ms. Attionu, prayed the court to adjourn the matter to allow them have the documents notarised.
The request was opposed by Stella Ohene Appiah, a Principal State Attorney, who indicated that the defence team was “just taking the court for granted.”
She said the defence at the last sitting on December 22, 2022, told the court they had a document to present to the court but the document which they have filed is dated January 5, 2023.
She indicated that if they had anything to do regarding the letter, they would have done so before yesterday’s proceedings, adding that the accused had indicated that she was going for check-up, and that was the basis which the court granted her leave to travel but “all of a sudden she became a patient so sick that she can’t travel.”
Justice Asare-Botwe said she will give the defence team one week to get the documents notarised after which she will determine them on their merits. “Nobody is going to introduce anything,” she added.
Ms. Attionu and Daniel Axim are facing 78 counts of charges including conspiracy to steal, stealing, unauthorised commitment resulting in a financial obligation for the government, improper payment, money laundering and contravention of the Public Procurement Act.
The prosecution had called seven witnesses, and counsel for Daniel Axim was left with one hour to complete his cross-examination for the prosecution to close its case.
Ms. Attionu’s lawyer however, sent a letter to the court asking it to release her passport for her to travel for medical check-up, and the court, presided over by Justice Afia Serwah Asare Botwe, granted the request and ordered her to return to court on October 5, 2021.
She, however, failed to do so, and the court issued a warrant for her arrest and subsequently adjourned the matter to November 16, 2021. She has still not returned to stand trial.
The prosecution therefore, filed two applications; one asking the court to forfeit the bail bond and make the sureties pay the amount, and the other was urging the court for an order to hold the trial in absentia.