Election fraud case adjourned to October 25
The electoral fraud case involving those accused of attempting to rig the 2020 General and Regional Elections has been adjourned to October 25, 2023, to determine whether a special magistrate or court will be appointed to adjudicate the matter.
Special Prosecutor, Darshan Ramdhani, KC, provided an update on Tuesday, following the case management hearing, which was intended to address preliminary concerns.
Ramdhani, who forms part of the team of prosecutors on record for the state, emphasised that given the magnitude of the case at hand, it is expected to consume considerable time and court resources.
“It became apparent that many days would have to be set aside to try such a matter. It would take a considerable time because we have 9 defendants and there would be a lot of cross-examination, which is a part of these matters. These are incidents of a fair trial. We had disclosed over 140 statements, we have close to 100 witnesses, we have tons of documentary evidence, we have a number of video evidence that has been disclosed to the other side,” he said.
He said that a matter of grave concern that was once again raised at Tuesday’s hearing was the issue of whether a dedicated court or magistrate would be appointed to sit and hear the case, with the exclusion of other matters.
“I believe that the magistrate has recognised that the proper course will be to have this particular issue determined as to whether the court will be put in a position where they have to deal with every criminal case that it has on its docket, or whether a court will be properly authorised to prioritise this case,” he noted.
He pointed out that the court does not have the power to determine that it shall relinquish other matters to dedicate itself to this case.
However, such a power is in the hands of the Chief Magistrate, and the Chancellor of the Judiciary.
“If this court is to commence these matters, having regard to the fact that this court is dealing with other cases, one can understand the agony that the court, the defendants and the people will go through. Justice must be balanced, and fair to the public, because it is in the interest of the public that crimes are prosecuted fairly, and a just outcome is arrived at,” Ramdhani explained.
In March of last year, the government had written to the Chief Magistrate requesting that consideration be given to having the matters heard altogether, as well as to have a single magistrate assigned to focus on the case.
He said that the prosecution will formally write to the Chancellor of the Judiciary (ag), Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards, to request that consideration be given to this matter.
It is alleged that the defendants conspired during the March 2, 2020 general and regional elections to defraud the electors of Guyana by declaring a false account of votes cast.
Those accused include former APNU+AFC government minister Volda Lawrence, former GECOM Returning Officer for District Four, Clairmont Mingo, former GECOM Deputy Chief Election Officer Roxanne Myers, APNU+AFC’s Chief Scrutineer, Carol Smith Joseph, and former GECOM Chief Election Officer, Keith Lowenfield, among others. (DPI)