The Lands Minister says government cannot determine the representation accused persons get in court.
Samuel Abdulai Jinapor said government does not have such powers under the constitution.
He was reacting to the surprising appearance of the New Patriotic Party (NPP)‘s former National Chairman for notorious galamsey kingpin, Aisha Huang and her accomplices on JoyFM’s Super Morning Show on Wednesday.
He stated that the accused persons are at liberty to choose who represents them in court.
Mr Jinapor told host Kojo Yankson that Mr Blay cannot be compelled to accept or not accept the case of the suspects.
“Government and for that matter, myself do not have control over decisions made by private legal practitioners. We cannot make a determination about what case a lawyer accepts.
“Secondly at the heart of our criminal justice system and our constitutional system is the right to fair trial and right to representation.
“So what kind of representation Aisha Huang or any other accused person gets, will be out of the hands of government,” he said.
He added should the government do so, it will be undermining the constitution.
“If the Republic and for that matter, the state or government were able to determine representation for accused persons, that obviously will defeat the age-old principle of a fair trial. So that we cannot be choosing lawyers for accused people,” he added.
However, Mr Jinapor said his focus is on how the Attorney General prosecutes the accused persons to secure a conviction for the state.
“What I am interested in and I am very interested in that is that the Attorney General prosecutes this matter fully in a very spirited manner and I am expecting that the Attorney General in the end will secure a conviction and I say this without prejudice to the trial that is about to commence.”
A feeling of surprise erupted in Criminal Court 5 on Tuesday when it was announced that former NPP National Chairman Freddie Blay will be representing four accomplices of Aisha Huang who are being held by the state for their involvement in illegal mining.
Lucy Ekeleba Blay, a private legal practitioner, announced in court that she was holding brief for Freddy Blay in the case of the four accomplices of Aisha Huang namely; Gao Jin Cheng, Lu Qi Jun, Haibin Go and Zhang Zhipeng.
Aisha Huang herself is being represented by NPP stalwart, Nkrabea Effah Dartey.
This move by Mr Blay has sparked discussions among the public as many say it suggests a lack of principles and defeats government’s fight against the canker.
Freddie Blay’s conviction
But Mr Freddie Blay has said his law firm is ready to defend the four accomplices of Aisha Huang because they are innocent.
He said they have no reason to believe or act otherwise, adding that the four Chinese nationals deserve full legal representation in court.
“They came to instruct us and we as professionals, have sworn an oath to defend our clients to the best of our knowledge and ability and that is exactly what we are doing in accordance with the Constitution of this country.
“They are not guilty. They’ve been brought before the court, they’ve pleaded not guilty and are being defended,” Mr Blay said in a JoyNews interview.
According to him, the four accused persons may have a relationship with Aisha Huang because in 2017 they bought a supermarket from her.
That, in any way, does not suggest they are illegal miners and should not have fair legal representation or defence, Mr Blay stressed.
“Our firm is defending these clients; they’ve told us their story. Maybe the prosecution has been told some other story and that is why we are before the court to defend them,” he added.
“We are a firm of lawyers, we take our instructions from our clients based on the story they’ve told us which we have no reason to believe otherwise.”