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Ato Forson trial: high court to rule on admissibility of “secret audio recording” on 13 June

After the audio recording was played in open court, the DPP, Yvonne Atakora Obuobisa, opposed the request for the sound to be tendered in evidence in the Forson trial

The high court, presided over by a Court of Appeal judge, Justice Afia Serwaa Asare Botwe, will on Thursday 13 June 2024 deliver a ruling on a request by lawyers of the third accused in the Ato Forson trial, Richard Jakpa, to tender in evidence the secret audio recording of a conversation between himself (Jakpa) and the Attorney General, Godfred Yeboah Dame.

At the start of court proceedings today (Tuesday 11 June 2024), the 16-minute audio recording was played in open court.

After it was played, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Yvonne Atakora Obuobisa, opposed the request for the recording to be tendered in evidence.

Opposed by the state

The DPP argued that an insufficient foundation has been laid by lawyers for the first accused person to warrant inclusion of the recording in evidence in the ongoing criminal trial of Cassiel Ato Forson, Sylvester Anemana (discharged) and Richard Jakpa.

“My lady will note that by its own ruling, this court admitted into evidence this same recording that counsel seeks to tender in through cross-examination of the third accused.

“In that motion for injunction and stay of proceedings, there was some relevance for which this court could admit to determine whether the Attorney General sought to implicate the first accused person through the evidence of the third accused.

“Having listened to the tape, you found it insufficient to grant the application. My lady placed negligible weight on the tape,” the DPP said in open court.

“This recording is of no significance whatsoever in arriving at any decision in respect of the action of the accused persons that have resulted in financial loss to the state.

“Even if they were to cross the relevance hurdle which they have woefully failed to, the constitutional hurdle which borders on the privacy of all individuals will also [catch up with them].

“This recording is irrelevant and has also breached the rules on the right to privacy of the Attorney General, and it ought to be dismissed,” Yvonne Atakora Obuobisa further said.

Contention of defence team

For his part, Bassit Aziz Bamba, the lawyer for the first accused person (Cassiel Ato Forson) who is currently cross-examining the third accused (Richard Jakpa), argued that the DPP’s objection is frivolous and should be overruled.

The content of the audio, Aziz Bamba said, “is relevant to the ongoing criminal proceedings because it relates to discussions about the subject matter of the supply agreement and the authorisation that was sent by the Minister for Finance to the Bank of Ghana for the letters of credit to be established”.

“The tape is relevant as to whether or not any financial loss at all has been caused to the state. In the tape, we hear that it was Anemana who authorised payment for the LC and not A1 (Ato Forson).

“So, without a doubt, the tape is relevant, and we ask the court pursuant to Section 51 of the Evidence Act rule that it is relevant and admissible,” Bassit Bamba declared in court.

By court

Justice Afia Serwaa Asare Botwe’s court, after hearing the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the defence lawyers, indicated that she will adjourn the sitting to Thursday 13 June 2024 to deliver a reasoned ruling on the admissibility of the secret recording in the trial and for the case to take its natural cause.

The court also made an open appeal to the defence lawyers, in particular, to assist it in speeding up the trial process and to ensure that the trial is concluded by the end of July 2024.

If this happens, the court says it will then be able to deliver its judgment in October 2024, when the 2024/25 legal year commences.


The financial and economic crimes high court on Thursday 6 June 2024 dismissed all four applications filed by Cassiel Ato Forson and Richard Jakpa, the two accused persons standing trial for causing financial loss of roughly €2.3 million to the state.

Both accused persons – Forson and Jakpa – filed separate applications asking the court to issue an order of mistrial for the trial to restart all over again.

The third accused person on his own also filed an application praying the court to strike out the charge of causing financial loss to the state contrary to Section 179A(2) of the Criminal Offences Act 1960 (Act 29).

The first accused person, Cassiel Ato Forson, also filed an application seeking an order of inquiry into the conduct of the Attorney General and/or stay of proceedings pending the determination of an appeal counsel have filed at the Court of Appeal challenging the decision of the court ordering lawyers of the first accused to cross-examine the third accused before the state conducts its own cross-examination of the third accused person.


In her rulings, Justice Afia Serwaa Asare Botwe said jurisdiction in criminal matters cannot be implied. It must be backed by statute and nothing else.

To this end, the court held that the application for the court to order an inquiry into the alleged conduct of the Attorney General cannot be a subject in an ongoing trial, especially when the alleged misconduct did not occur in the court during the ongoing trial.

The application for an order of inquiry into the conduct of the Attorney General was therefore dismissed.


On the application for a mistrial, the court ruled that while there are no authorities to support the application for the court to declare a mistrial based on allegations of misconduct on the part of a prosecutor, and while there are appropriate institutions that may investigate such allegations, the high court is not one of such institutions.

In that regard, the application for a declaration of a mistrial was dismissed.

Injuncting the AG

On the application to injunct the Attorney General from proceeding with the prosecution, Justice Afia Serwaa Asare Botwe’s court held that Ghana’s statutes and jurisprudence generally do not allow state institutions to be injuncted from carrying out their statutory duties.

To that end, the high court cannot injunct the Attorney General, the constitutionally mandated office that initiates and prosecutes all criminal matters in Ghana, from carrying out its duties as demanded by the accused persons.

Striking out charges

Touching on the application by the third accused person (Richard Jakpa) asking the court to strike out the charges filed against him, the high court held that for a case which has travelled to the point where the last accused person (Jakpa) has opened his defence and is being cross-examined, it will not be in the interests of justice, or the public interest, for the case not to be brought to its logical conclusion.

To that end, the application was dismissed in its entirety.

Reporting by Wilberforce Asare in Accra

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