A city Magistrate on Wednesday dismissed a fraud charge against Carvil Duncan, a trade unionist and former member of the Board of Directors of the State-run Guyana Power and Light (GPL) Inc.
Duncan was facing a charge which stated that on March 31, 2015 at Georgetown, he stole $984,900, property of GPL.
But Magistrate Leron Daly ruled that the prosecution’s evidence was insufficient to make out a prima facie case against Duncan, who was charged on January 26, 2016.
Duncan’s Defence Attorney, Glen Hanoman said the Magistrate deemed as inadmissible a photocopied Cabinet decision, and oral testimony by former Prime Minister Samuel Hinds about a Cabinet meeting where the decision to pay Duncan was made.
Duncan still faces a conspiracy charge which stated that between May 7 and May 8, 2015, he conspired with then Deputy Chief Executive Officer (DCEO) of GPL, Aeshwar Deonarine to steal $27,757,547, property of the power company.
He is expected to appear in court on January 4, 2017 to answer to that charge. Duncan was confident that this charge would also be dismissed.
Duncan was recently suspended from the chairmanship of the Public Service Commission and membership of several other constitutional bodies by President David Granger, who appointed a Tribunal to determine his fate in light of the criminal charges.
Late last month, Duncan had moved to the High Court, where Justice Franklin
Holder issued temporary orders to halt the work of the tribunal.
But it is now unclear what implications the dismissal of the charge will have on the Tribunal and Duncan’s suspension.
When contacted, Attorney General Basil Williams indicated that he was in a meeting and could not respond at the time.
Meanwhile, former Attorney General Anil Nandlall in a statement shortly after the verdict, said that the dismissal of the charge vindicates Duncan’s.
Nandlall added that it also gave credence to his argument all along that Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo and President Granger acted “prematurely, precipitously, capriciously, arbitrarily and unconstitutionally” when they activated a process to remove Duncan from office before the hearing and determination of the criminal charges.
“As it now turns out, they are attempting to remove from office, a high constitutional office holder who enjoys security of tenure of office and who has done no legal wrong that would be considered ‘misbehaviour’ to warrant his removal from office,” Nandlall stated.
UNLAWFUL & UNCONSTITUTIONAL
The former Attorney General said that the dismissal of the charge also shows that the Presidential Tribunal was an unlawful and unconstitutional course of action. “The Executive has wasted a lot of time, energy and financial resources in its indecent haste to remove Mr Duncan from office. In the end, the rule of law and an independent judiciary have prevailed,” Nandlall reasoned.
He called on President Granger to abandon the Tribunal and immediately reinstate Duncan to his constitutional posts.
“In the circumstances, the President is now obliged to do the decent thing, which is to disband the Tribunal forthwith and to rescind his suspension of Mr Duncan from performing his various constitutional functions,” he stated.
Efforts to contact Minister of State, Joseph Harmon for a comment on the way forward for the Tribunal and Duncan’s reinstatement proved unsuccessful, as calls to his mobile phone went unanswered.