HARARE – The State has said a Ghanaian businessperson at the centre of a $6 million diamond bribery scandal has no right to be heard because he was a fugitive from justice.
Kingsley Ghansah, whose appeal was struck off the High Court roll yesterday, is appealing against a five-year jail term he was handed after being convicted for illegal possession of seven kilogrammes of gold.
Ghansah’s case became dramatic following President Robert Mugabe’s sensational revelations that ex-ZMDC boss Goodwills Masimirembwa demanded a $6 million bribe from him.
It took a further spin after the Ghanaian national was issued with an arrest warrant for failing to return to Zimbabwe, following a temporary release of his passport.
However, chief law officer Chris Mutangadura, in his papers opposing the conviction and sentence appeal, said Ghansah “lacks the requisite locus standi to prosecute his appeal.”
The matter could not be heard yesterday after it emerged that it had been erroneously set down.
Ghansah reportedly went back to his native country while on $10 000 bail pending appeal.
“It is now clear to us that the appellant (Ghansah) being a foreigner and a purported investor must have a licence from Zimbabwe Investment Authority in terms of which he was to invest in a certain type of business and injecting a known amount of capital,” Mutangadura said.
He further said Ghansah was approaching the court with dirty hands and cannot expect to be heard.
“He did not return in the time stipulated and an unauthenticated medical certificate was produced as the reason for his failure to return,” Mutangadura said, adding that fears for his personal security had been “grossly exaggerated”.
However, Ghansah, through his lawyer Admire Rubaya, said despite having pleaded guilty to the charges, he was going to alter his plea on appeal, upon submission of a satisfactory explanation.
Rubaya said Ghansah had been ill-advised by his previous lawyer, resulting in him tendering a guilty plea, yet he had a defence to offer.
“At the end of the day, it would be a miscarriage of justice for a clearly innocent person to be convicted on the wrong advice of a legal practitioner, where no trial has then taken place,” Rubaya said, adding that the plea was wrong.
He said the owner of the gold in question was a licensed gold dealer and in order for the court to find him guilty of possession, there was need to prove that he was in physical control and had intention to possess the mineral.
Rubaya said the court has misdirected itself and that it made a wrong conclusion, which warrants the quashing of the sentence.
He said Ghansah’s case raised special circumstances, which the court ought to have considered on sentencing options.