Electoral fraud cases get underway: 80 witnesses, 140 statements to be presented

Some of the accused at the Georgetown Magistrates' Court when the cases were called up on October 3

The accused in the election fraud cases today appeared before Magistrate Leron Daly at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court, where a litany of charges was read out to them.

Among those who have been charged are former Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) employees as well as sitting Member of Parliament Volda Lawrence.

Former GECOM Chief Elections Officer Keith Lowenfield, his former Deputy Roxanne Myers, and former Region Four Returning Officer Clairmont Mingo, were also charged, with Lowenfield and Mingo facing the most charges.

Lowenfield was charged with three counts of misconduct in public office, three counts of forgery and two counts of conspiracy to defraud.

Meanwhile, Mingo was charged with four counts of misconduct in public office. He was further charged with two counts of conspiracy to defraud and two counts of forgery.

Lawrence, APNU member Carol Smith-Joseph and former GECOM employees Enrique Livan and Michelle Miller were also charged with various offences.

When the matter was called, Special Prosecutor and Queen’s Counsel Darshan Ramdhani requested that the cases be consolidated.

Ramdhani pointed out that with as many as 80 witnesses and 140 statements, as well as video evidence, consolidating the cases will save precious time.

He also sought the intervention of Senior Magistrate Daly, in petitioning the Chancellor of the Judiciary to have the matters assigned to a specific magistrate.

Attorney-at-Law Nigel Hughes, who represents several of the accused, however urged that the matters proceed as soon as possible.

Magistrate Daly then adjourned the cases to October 25. In an interview with the media afterwards, Hughes hinted that the defence may consider legal action over delays in the cases.

The cases all relate to attempts made to rig the 2020 General and Regional elections, during which time the country stood still for five months until the swearing in of President Dr. Irfaan Ali on August 2, 2020.

A Commission of Inquiry (COI) into the events surrounding the elections has already concluded its work. Among other things, the Inquiry implicated a number of individuals in acts of wrongdoings during the five-month-long period.

The findings of the report all point to brazen attempts to derail the elections, shining a spotlight on the actions of GECOM staff themselves.

During the public hearings of the CoI that commenced on November 3, 2022, several witnesses took the stand including politicians, staff of GECOM, ranks from the Guyana Police Force, and other stakeholders such as local observers.

However, the key players accused of attempts to rig elections had refused to testify when they were summoned before the Commission. These include Mingo, Lowenfield, and Myers.