High Court trial can expose Mingo, Lowenfield to life sentences – Hanoman
By Kurt Campbell
With the mode of trial in the electoral fraud case against the country’s Chief Election Officer, Keith Lowenfield; Region Four Returning Officer, Clairmont Mingo and People’s National Congress Reform (PNC/R) chairwoman, Volda Lawrence still to be decided, Special Prosecutor, Glen Hanoman has offered some advice to the defence.
The parties are to return to court on January 28, 2021, where the presiding magistrate is expected to rule on the type of trial that will ensue. Hanoman and the other attorneys, who are representing the state as special prosecutors, have asked for the matter to be tried in the magistrate’s court but the defence has asked for the matter to be tried in the High Court before a judge and jury.
Hanoman, in a recent interview with the Department of Public Information (DPI), explained that not only would a trial by a judge and jury take longer, but it also exposes the three accused to possible life sentences. He said it was unusual that the defence has requested that specific mode of trial.
“The law is that the magistrate is the person who ultimately makes that ruling about where the trial should take place and be concluded. So, the defence, in this case, has taken the unusual stand that they are more interested in the matter being tried by a jury. That procedure will most likely take more than five years and it will cause substantial delays in the trial of the matter.
“The prosecutors are pressing very hard because it is more convenient, it is more efficient, for the matters to be done purely in the Magistrate’s Court. We are pressing for that to be done,” Hanoman said.
He explained that the magistrate’s court has a limit to the amount of imprisonment that they can sentence someone to; five years is usually the upper limit.
“…these accused can get life imprisonment and the defence is saying that they would prefer these matters to be tried before judge and jury. I’m hoping that they have discussed this with their clients and that the clients understand that by taking that stand, they are now going to be exposed to a lot higher sentence,” he said.
Hanoman said when the case is called again on January 28, it would be interesting to see what the magistrate decides.
“We are at a stage where the magistrate’s court has not decided as yet formally, whether these matters will be proceeding summarily, meaning purely in the magistrate’s court or whether she will just be taking evidence in the form of depositions in the magistrate’s court to determine whether it is sufficient evidence for judge and jury to try these matters, perhaps more than five years from now,” Hanoman added.
Hanoman is urging the public to exercise patience as “the wheels of justice turn very slowly for a lot of different reasons.”
“We have thousands of witnesses that we have to go through so regardless of what mode of trial we adopt, these matters will be before the court for a long time to come,” he said.
Apart from Hanoman, there are five other prosecuting attorneys; Ganesh Hera, George Thomas, Danielle Anthony, Donavon Rangiah and Mark Conway.
Mingo, Lawrence and Lowenfield are all facing separate state instituted criminal charges for their role in attempting to rig the March 02, 2020 elections. Lawrence’s signature appeared on a fraudulent declaration that Mingo attempted to declare, which would have changed the outcome of the elections in a bid to hand victory to Lawrence’s coalition party.
Lowenfield came under scrutiny for preparing his elections report on March 5, 2020, which included inflated figures presented to him by Mingo. If Mingo’s report was used, the country would have been cheated of the real victors of the elections – the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) – and instead, David Granger and his coalition would have been sworn in for a second term.
Lowenfield would have known who the true winner of the elections was since he received the original Statements of Poll (SOPs) from all of the country’s polling stations.