The trial against seven persons accused of colluding to rig the March 02, 2020 elections, set to commence on Friday, has been deferred as the prosecution was granted more time to properly sort the copies of Statements of Polls (SOPs) and Statements of Recount (SORs) for disclosure to the court.
When the matter is called again on October 11, 2021, the prosecution headed by attorney Darshan Ramdhani, QC, is expected to have all the copies of SOPs and SORs along with other statements and video evidence sorted in the manner prescribed by the court for disclosure.
After those disclosures are complete, a decision will be made on the mode of trial – either calling the witnesses to the stand or via the paper committal process. Ramdhani had attempted to make an application in this regard on Friday but was asked by Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan to put a hold on the request until the disclosure of evidence is complete.
According to Ramdhani, there was difficulty when duplicating the documents as some of the pages were not copied properly and found to be indecipherable. He asked for more time to get this sorted although three out of nine bundles were ready to be handed over to the court and to the two defence attorneys on Friday.
Those against who the charges, premised on electoral fraud, are brought against include Chairman of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNC/R), Volda Lawrence along with embattled Region Four Returning Officer, Clairmont Mingo and APNU+AFC member Carol Smith-Joseph. This trio is being represented by attorney Nigel Hughes.
The four other Guyana Election Commission (GECOM) staffers who allegedly conspired include Registration Clerks, Shefern February; Michelle Miller; Denise Babb – Cummings and Information Technology Officer, Enrique Livan.
They are all accused of inflating the results of Region Four – Guyana’s largest voting district – to give the APNU+AFC Coalition a majority win at the polls when in fact, the PPP/C had won by 15,000 votes.
This resulted in several legal challenges which ended up before the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) – Guyana’s highest appeal court – and a five-month delay in the declaration of the results. A lengthy recount of the votes eventually declared victory to the PPP/C and Dr. Irfaan Ali was sworn in as the President of Guyana.
Soon after, Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Shalimar Ali-Hack, S.C had granted a fiat to a six-member team of prominent lawyers to prosecute the matters on behalf of the State.
They include Ramdhani, Glenn Hanoman, Mark Conway, Ganesh Hira, Arudranauth Gossai and George Thomas.