The Director of Public Prosecution’s (DPP’s) decision to discontinue the charges filed by the Opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) against sitting Government Ministers Volda Lawrence and Dr George Norton will be challenged in the High Court.
This is according to former Attorney General and PPP’s legal representative, Anil Nandlall during a telephone interview with INews on Tuesday.
“In my respectful view, the DPP has exercised her discretion and her powers unlawfully and discriminatory and therefore her actions are illegal and unconstitutional. I am now actively considering challenging the DPP’s decision in the court because her decision is reviewable by the High Court…I will do it, it’s just a matter of time,” he said.
In a released statement on Monday the DPP, Shalimar Ali-Hack, explained that “these charges concern a grave issue under the criminal law in relation to two serving Ministers. In the interest of good governance in the State of Guyana such allegations ought first to have been reported to the Guyana Police Force for an investigation to be launched and the advice of the DPP sought.”
According to Nandlall, the reasons advanced by the DPP to discontinue the court case against Government Officials cannot withstand objective legal scrutiny.
“The two reasons given in the press statement are dubious at least. One, that a report was not made to the police station. The DPP was careful not to point which law requires such a report to be made because there’s no such law,” he posited.
According to the former Attorney General, there seems to be a battle between “authoritarianism and the rule of law unfolding”, while noting that every time an authoritarian act is not challenged, “we allow authoritarianism to prevail over the rule of law.”
“It’s a pity that organisations and persons who a few years ago were very veracious on these very issues have now become silenced. History will judge their hypocrisy harshly,” he asserted.
On April 12 2018, Government instituted legal proceedings against former Finance Minister Ashni Singh and former CEO of NICIL Winston Brassington for what it says is “misconduct in public office: contrary to common law” as it pertains to the sale of three plots of state land.
In return, Nandlall on behalf of PPP MPs, took to the court to have Minister of Public Health, Volda Lawrence and former Minister of Public Health, Dr George Norton charged with the same offence.
The charges were with regards to the sole sourcing of drugs and other pharmaceuticals for the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation from privately owned, Ansa McAll Trading Limited and the rental of a house in Sussex Street, Albouystown, Georgetown to be utilized as a drug bond at a cost of $12M monthly, respectively.
Attorney General, Basil Williams had then written the DPP to have the charges laid by Nandlall reviewed, calling for its discontinuation.
Nandlall had also done the same with regards to Singh and Brassington but the DPP never responded.
However, On Monday the DPP discontinued the charges against Norton and Lawrence.
Before the DPP issued its statement discontinuing the private charges against Lawrence and Norton, the PPP had filed three more charges of “misconduct in public office” against Minister of Finance, Winston Jordan, Public Infrastructure Minister, David Patterson and former Minister of Education, now Minister of Public Service Dr Rupert Roopnaraine at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court.
Speaking to the media before the case was filed with Chief Magistrate, Ann McLennan, Nandlall explained that Patterson and Jordan are being accused of “paying to Private Limited Liability company, Homestretch Development Inc (HDI), the sum of $906M, being public funds, without any resort to the procurement process as is required by law.”
Further, in the other charge placed against Minister of Public Service, Dr Rupert Roopnarine, it is alleged that “while being a Minister, [he] acted as Director of the Private Limited Liability Company, Homestretch Development Inc (HDI) and accepted $906M of public funds without any resort to the procurement process which is prescribed by law.”
Both cases are with regards to the construction of the controversial Durban Park Stadium.
Acknowledging that these three charges might very well meet the same fate as the two brought against Lawrence and Norton, Nandlall said that “the charges have already been filed. The decision of the DPP is that the charges were filed without a report being made to the police. Those charges have already been filed so if those, if that’s the principle that they’re using then these are in the same position as these too.”
Works on the controversial $1.4B project, which was shrouded in secrecy, started in 2015.
Last year, Auditor General of Guyana, Deodat Sharma had told media operatives that the missing financial records for the Durban Park project was prolonging a special audit which had been launched among concerns of corruption and mismanagement of the State’s resources.
At the time, the AG had said that there were no documentations of the transactions regarding the Durban Park Project, prior to it being handed over to the Ministry of Public Infrastructure. (Ramona Luthi)