Chief Magistrate to rule on way forward for charges against Mingo, others

0
L-R: Carol Joseph, Volda Lawrence and Clairmont Mingo

Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan has fixed April 7, 2021, to deliver a ruling on how she will proceed with the electoral fraud charges against embattled Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica) Returning Officer Clairmont Mingo, People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) Chairperson Volda Lawrence, and APNU/AFC’s activist Carol Joseph.

Their lawyers, Nigel Hughes, and associates have laid over submissions in which they have asked that the charges against their client remain indictable. Should the court rule in favour of these submissions, it means that the Chief Magistrate would have to hold a Preliminary Inquiry to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to commit the trio to stand trial at the High Court.

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has hired a team of lawyers to prosecute these cases. The prosecution has since objected to the charges remaining indictable and as such has requested summary disposal – this means the matter would be tried before a Magistrate.

Lawrence was slapped with two charges of conspiracy to commit fraud at the March 2, 2020 General and Regional Elections. She was placed on bail. Joseph is charged jointly with Mingo for forgery. They have all been placed on bail.

Last month, Senior Magistrate Leron Daly ruled that a Preliminary Inquiry (PI) will be conducted into the two counts of misconduct in public office against Deputy Chief Elections Officer (DCEO) Roxanne Myers. This was after she upheld submissions by Hughes for the charges to remain indictable.  The DPP has since filed an appeal against the Magistrate’s decision.

Myers was not required to plead to the indictable charges which stated that, during the period March 4 and 14, 2020, she wilfully misconducted herself in declaring fraudulent results for the March 2, 2020 General and Regional Elections.

She has been placed on $300,000 bail in relation to both charges.

Given the magnitude of the allegations levelled against Mingo, Myers, Lawrence, Joseph, and Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield, their lawyers are contending that the best forum for the matters is in the High Court.

During a previous interview, Attorney-at-Law Ronald Daniels said, “The allegation is that he [Lowenfield] has committed fraud against everybody in the country, so the best forum for that is before the High Court, where the jury, as representatives of the people of the country, (would determine) whether fraud has been perpetrated against the country.”
Lowenfield is facing three counts of forgery and three counts of misconduct in public office. He has been placed on $300,000 bail. There are also electoral fraud charges against GECOM clerks Denise Bob-Cummings and Michelle Miller and GECOM Elections Officer Shefern February and Information Technology Officer Enrique Livan. They, too, have been released on bail.

Lowenfield’s report claimed that the APNU/AFC coalition garnered 171,825 votes while the PPP/C gained 166,343 votes. How he arrived at those figures is still unknown.

The certified results from the recount exercise supervised by GECOM and a high-level team from the Caribbean Community (Caricom) pellucidly showed that the PPP/C won with 233,336 votes while the coalition garnered 217,920.

The recount exercise also proved that Mingo heavily inflated the figures in Region Four – Guyana’s largest voting District – in favour of the then caretaker APNU/AFC regime.