(Following is a response to President David Granger issued this morning by former Attorney General Anil Nandlall with regard to the Carvil Duncan matter)
Many persons have asked me to respond to President Granger’s latest statements on Carvil Duncan. I attempt to do so now.
Speaking on the dismissal on the fraud charge against Duncan, the President is quoted as saying “There is a slight difference between insufficient evidence and innocence therefore, insufficient evidence is not equal to innocence…” The President goes on to say that he will await the decision of the tribunal established and that he will not withdraw his suspension imposed on Duncan.
I am sure that the President is being advised by his legal advisors. I am equally sure that his legal advisors are at sea. As I stated earlier Duncan, like every other person charged with a criminal offence, is presumed innocent until proven guilty. This is a constitutional protection. It means that Duncan is as innocent as the prosecutor is; that Duncan is as innocent as the magistrate is; that Duncan is innocent as the President is. Those who charged Duncan must produce the legally admissible evidence to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that he is guilty of the offence for which he is charged. Only when that evidential threshold is met, is the presumption of innocence which Duncan enjoys rebutted. He is then said to have been proven guilty. Therefore, if those who have charged Duncan fail to adduce the required degree of evidence then Duncan remains as innocent of the charge as the prosecutor is, as the magistrate and indeed as the President is.
Applying these elementary legal principles, it ought to be excruciatingly clear that it was wrong to establish the tribunal to remove Mr. Duncan from office before the criminal legal proceedings were determined. This is so because the tribunal is attempting to remove a legally innocent person from office.
It should also be equally clear that the imposition of the sanction of suspension upon Mr. Duncan, is premature and wrong because it constitutes an imposition of a penalty upon an innocent man.
The dismal of the fraud charge against Mr. Duncan has compounded these wrongs.
Having regard to the foregoing, the statement attributed to the President that “There is a slight difference between insufficient evidence and innocence therefore, insufficient evidence is not equal to innocence…” is quite unfortunate.
Immediately, it must be pointed out that insufficient evidence is certainly not equal to guilty, either. More fundamentally, I say with deep respect that the statement demonstrates a lack of appreciation of the constitutional doctrine of presumption of innocence. In fact, the statement erroneously implies that there is some obligation on Duncan to prove his innocence. The law imposes no such obligation. I blame, not the President, but those who have ill-advised him.