Former Attorney General, Anil Nandlall was on Thursday arrested by the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU), and charged at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court for larceny of several Commonwealth law books worth approximately $2.3M dollars.
Presiding Magistrate Fabayo Azore subsequently read the charge, after there was a delay in bringing the docket, which stated that he obtained the law books fraudulently.
Nandlall was granted self-bail by the Magistrate. He is expected to return to court on May 8, 2017.
The People’s Progressive Party (PPP) in a release shortly after Nandlall was charged condemned the arrest of the former Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, by SOCU.
“The prolongation of this inconsequential issue totally unrelated to the mandate of S.O.C.U. demonstrates once again the repressive and vindictive nature of the APNU+AFC coalition government” said the PPP.
On Tuesday, the day after he was initially detained by SOCU for questioning in relation to the law books, Nandlall filed legal proceedings in the Constitutional Division of the High Court, against Attorney General, Basil Williams, SC to prove that the books are his property.
Following the legal arguments in court, the Chief Justice (ag), Roxanne George-Wilshire granted the Conservatory Order, restraining officers of SOCU and the Guyana Police Force from seizing or detaining the said books.
Williams, had indicated to the media on several occasions that charges are looming against Nandlall, who had accused Williams of victimisation for criticising his performance.
However, Williams had posited that whether or not his predecessor is critiquing his work as the Attorney General, Nandlall will have to face criminal charges nonetheless.
“He (would) say that because he is attacking me, that I’m retaliating,” the Attorney General told media operatives. “Mr Nandlall has stolen Government property and he will be charged, whether he attacks me now or never!”
Responding to this statement, Nandlall had declared at a press briefing that he has gone too long ignoring the utterances of the Attorney General, and will take legal action against him.
In April, Nandlall kept his word and sued AG Williams for $125 million in compensation for the “considerable distress, anxiety and public humiliation” he reportedly faced by the utterances from Williams in relation to the missing law books.
Nandall in his court action outlined statements that Williams made, such as “Nandlall stole government property…the law books…he still has the law books and he will get lock up for the law books and anyone who claim they gave him permission to steal the law books will get locked up as well because there is no immunity for stealing and doing criminal acts in this country”, among others as reasons for his ‘distress and anxiety’.
According to the former Attorney General, during the transition process following the 2015 Elections, he had informed Williams of the arrangement with the State, to which Williams had reportedly responded by saying he wished that he, too, had had a subscription, so that the State could pay for it as well.
Nandlall has previously explained that when he was appointed Attorney General, he requested as part of his contract of service for the Government of Guyana to stand the expense for his subscriptions for the Commonwealth Law Books. He had subscribed to Lexis Nexis, the publishers of the Law reports.
His contentions were corroborated publicly by then President Donald Ramotar.
According to Nandlall, the issue of the “missing books” was raised months later, after he had begun criticising Williams’s work. “He said to me in the National Assembly one day that unless I stopped my public criticism of him, he would make this allegation about missing law books, and I said to him, ‘Go ahead’.”
Moreover, Nandlall had posited that the most recent utterance by the AG Williams — of charges to be filed against him — coupled with similar pronouncements made by Public Security Ministry Khemraj Ramjattan ahead of the arrests of several former prominent Government officials by the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) earlier this month, reflects a larger picture of Government’s policy in relation to the Opposition.
“We have informed the international community that democracy (in Guyana) is under threat; that if a person is critical of the Government or critical of a Minister, then he exposes himself to trumped up criminal charges and persecution,” Nandlall had outlined.