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Richard Jakpa’s Plot To Entrap Attorney General Is Uncovered

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Asaase News has uncovered what appears to be a deliberate plot to entrap the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, Godfred Yeboah Dame, last April in the house of a Supreme Court judge (name withheld), who happens to be a very close relative of the accused person suspected to have secretly recorded the Attorney General.

Richard Jakpa, the man suspected to have recorded the AG, is on trial with the former Deputy Minister of Finance and Minority Leader, Cassiel Ato Forson, in the ambulance procurement trial with an alleged €2.3 million financial loss to the state.

The facts available to Asaase News indicate that Mr Yeboah Dame was invited by a Justice of the Supreme Court of Ghana to come to his house for a discussion. He obliged as would be expected but had no indication that Mr Jakpa would show up there.

Invitation by SC Judge
In the course of the conversation with the Justice of the Supreme Court, the accused person, Mr Jakpa, whom the Judge had introduced as a cousin, came into the room. The Judge enquired as to what was happening with the plea-bargaining proposal submitted by the accused and whether the same could be accepted.

This conversation happened shortly after the prosecution had closed their case and the trial Judge, against the submission of no case to answer by the accused persons, had ruled that there was indeed a case to answer and that Dr Ato Forson and Jakpa should go ahead to open their defence.

But, Jakpa, who was allegedly wired, breaching the trust of his cousin the judge, is said to have spoken in a way designed to commit the AG to say something injurious.

However, our checks show that the AG limited his interventions to facts and evidence of the case he had presented in open court.

The high-profile nature of the case, our checks show, has led to a lot of pressure being brought on the prosecution against the continuation of the trial. The AG, from one check, has always remained firm but has welcomed the option of plea bargaining once properly framed.

On 30 March 2023, Justice Afia Serwaa Asare-Botwe’s Court ruled that a prima facie case had been made by the prosecution against all the accused persons and that, they ought to open their defence. Mr Jakpa subsequently applied for plea bargaining but was rejected for not being properly framed and asked for it to be resubmitted.

The Attorney General at the said meeting with the Supreme Court Judge (about 6 weeks ago) informed the Judge about the circumstances that had led to a non-acceptance of the plea negotiations and indicated that it was essentially attributable to the strategies adopted by the accused persons.

The reasons, according to the AG, were as follows: Mr Jakpa had indeed submitted a plea proposal to the Office of the Attorney General by letters dated 16 April, 27 April, 16 May, and 30 May 2023, but the difficulty was that the letters only stated that, Big Sea General LLC, a Dubai based company, had heard about the dispute and was prepared to pay 2 million Euros and take back the vehicles purporting to be ambulances.

In consideration of this, Big Sea would request for the Republic to discontinue the case against all the accused persons. The Office of the Attorney General replied that Big Sea was not a party to the court case in Ghana, and therefore a plea agreement, whereby Big Sea would offer to pay the amount in question in settlement of the case, was improper. The 3rd accused subsequently wrote “improving” the offer made.

The first accused person, Cassiel Ato Forson, through his lawyers, also wrote a letter to the AG dated 25 July 2023, stating that “he had no objection” to the proposals by the 3rd accused. The Office of the AG replied to the 1st accused, Ato Forson’s letter and asked him to clarify whether by the letter, he is to be understood as also making a plea request. The 1st accused’s lawyers replied that he should not be understood as making a plea request.

Based on the above, the AG wrote to the accused persons stating that the 3rd accused person’s offer was not acceptable. Even after this, counsel for the accused persons, particularly, the 3rd accused, Mr Jakpa, continued to engage the AG both in court and out of court on the possibility of negotiating a plea agreement.

The Supreme Court Judge then asked whether it was possible for an opportunity for a settlement to be given to the 3rd accused person, his cousin.

During the meeting, the 3rd accused person, who was secretly recording the meeting, accused the AG of being too difficult and that he had something against him, the 3rd accused persons and wanted to see him jailed.

The AG stated categorically that in a case involving financial loss to the state, the focus is more on the public officials whose acts occasioned the alleged crime(s).

But, Mr Jakpa stated that the A-G was the main hindrance to the settlement efforts and that, the offer by the accused persons for plea-bargaining was good and reasonable. He alleged that if the AG was so inclined, the case would have been settled long ago.

Record conversation
Unknown to the AG, the whole conversation was being recorded. Our checks show that apart from telephone conversations, the 3rd accused knew that he couldn’t meet the AG anywhere and secretly record him unless, as it happened in the house of a judge that AG respected and also knows as a good friend.

The Attorney General assured the Justice of the Supreme Court that he did not have a problem with any of the accused persons and that if plea-bargaining was what they wanted, it was just for them to come clean and indicate unequivocally that, they wanted the same.

He stated that the situation whereby they shied away from categorically applying for plea-bargaining and proposed to pay the cost of purchase of the ordinary vans purporting to be ambulances, but would rather want to hide behind an entity which was not a party to the case (Big Sea General LLC in Dubai), was unacceptable.

The AG said this because, in the case of the 1st accused for instance, he had pleaded with the AG to stop prosecuting him when he came to the AG’s house to plead in the company of a senior Member of Parliament. The AG had told him that the only way he would compromise was for the first accused together with the other accused persons, to submit a plea bargaining proposal.

Even though the first accused accepted to do this, he was not prepared to explicitly acknowledge on paper that he had offered to do plea bargaining with the AG because he thought an indication of the same would imply acceptance of wrongdoing on his part, a situation which, according to him, would lower his standing in the eyes of the society.

The 3rd accused, Jakpa, said at the meeting that, despite all the AG had said, he was still pursuing him and that the AG meant to secure his conviction. The AG assured him in the presence of the Justice of the Supreme Court once again, that he had nothing against him, and that, in the particular case of the 3rd accused person, if he was truthful when testifying and did not attempt to be “clever” or evasive, it would facilitate an acceptance of a plea proposal by him.

The Attorney-General indicated that it was easy to accept a plea bargaining proposal from Jakpa because he was not the principal actor in the processes for the payment of the defective ordinary vans purporting to be ambulances, and to that extent, he was not the main target.

The AG stated that the principal actors in the transaction, or the main targets, were the public officers through whose acts the State had lost millions of Euros for the purchase of the ordinary vans held out as ambulances. Those public officers were the other two accused persons, one of whom a nolle prosequi had been entered on account of his sickness and inability to stand trial.

The Attorney-General stated that all he would require of the 3rd accused, to facilitate a plea negotiation was for him to cooperate by being truthful and faithful to the record of the transaction. The AG told Jakpa in the presence of the Justice of the Supreme Court that, for instance, he would show him the Cabinet approval for the transaction (which the prosecution had already tendered at the trial) and ask whether Big Sea Company was mentioned in the Cabinet approval.

 

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Source:  Asaase

 

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