AG wants to present ‘new’ evidence to CCJ on No Confidence case

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Attorney General Basil Williams wants to present “new” evidence to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) on the No Confidence appeals because of an interview on YouTube with Charrandass Persaud who he claims said he knew he was not qualified to sit in the National Assembly.

The presentation of the new evidence could delay a final determination of the case.

In an affidavit filed at the CCJ, the Attorney General claimed that on May 11, 2019, the day after oral arguments in the consolidated appeals concluded, Mr Persaud gave an interview which was broadcast on the internet in which, among other things, he said: “I knew that people with dual citizenship could not hold a seat in Parliament. That was a given, that is a constitutional article we cannot get away from.”

Persaud made the comment on the Globespan 24×7 interview programme that was titled “Conflict of Interest in Guyana!” and was posted on YouTube.

The Attorney General said presenting this evidence will probably have an important influence on the outcome of the appeals. He wants the court to grant him permission to submit the evidence in writing.

Mr Persaud’s attorney, Sanjeev Datadin, plans to respond, calling the application filed by the Attorney General as desperate and another “red herring” designed to mislead the nation.

“The AG has deliberately and mischievously not disclosed the whole truth of the statement made by our client, Charrandas Persaud. The statement is sadly taken wholly out of context,” Datadin said in a statement late Thursday night.

Attorney General Basil Williams and Attorney-at-Law Sanjeev Datadin

The Attorney General claimed that he only became aware of the interview on June 3, 2019, and so he could not present it at the time of the hearings.

He said that an important issue is whether Mr Persaud knew he was disqualified from sitting in the House. The State, supported by others, have sought to invalidate Persaud’s vote on the night of December 21, 2018, when he voted with the opposition on it’s No Confidence vote.

Persaud’s voted caused pandemonium, as it meant the opposition had secured the 33 votes it needed to pass the motion in the 65-seat House and bring down the Government, with the constitution dictating elections in three months.

But the Court of Appeal later overturned a High Court ruling which validated the passage of the motion. The court, by way of a 2-1 majority, ruled that 34 votes were needed to pass the motion. The CCJ has to determine if 33 was sufficient for the passage of the motion, however, both the Guyana High Court and the Court of Appeal had upheld Mr Persaud’s vote.

It was concluded that, based on a clear constitutional provision, whether he voted illegally, his vote has to be counted.

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