SOCU requests more time to present statements in Court

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…almost 2 weeks after charging former attorney general

Almost two weeks after charging former attorney general, Anil Nandlall for allegedly fraudulently converting to his own use and benefit, 14 Commonwealth Law Reports, valued at $2.3 million, the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) is requesting more time to present statements in court.

This request caused quite a stir during court proceedings on Tuesday at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court, and Nandlall’s attorneys, including former minister, Priya Manickchand questioned the grounds on which the shadow attorney general was charged.

“Today, they brought Mr Nandlall to court. The prosecution has said that they would like time to complete their investigations to present statements. That could not be right. The constitution under article 144 guarantees that [if] Mr Nandlall is charged, he is entitled to those statements. It couldn’t be right that they charged Mr Nandlall and now they’re looking at his statement and they need until the 29th of this month to find those statements. Then on what basis was Mr Nandlall charged?,” Attorney-at-Law, Sanjeev Datadin  questioned.

Datadin maintained that Nandlall’s constitutional rights were violated since the prosecution failed to provide the witness statements which should have been reviewed before the charge was laid against the former attorney general.

“What if those investigations that they are now conducting…[what if the] result disclosed that Mr Nandlall has not committed a criminal offence, then what happens? He would have been charged for what reason? On what basis? We don’t know. We’ve raised this concern with the Magistrate. We’ve told the Magistrate clearly that what they have done by not providing Mr Nandlall’s witness statements is a violation of his constitutional rights and they should have had these statements ready before they charged Mr Nandall,” Datadin told the media.

The case was adjourned until May 29, 2017.

On April 24 2017, Nandlall was called in to SOCU headquarters for questioning in relation to the Commonwealth Law Books.

The day after his detainment, the shadow AG took to the High Court and filed legal proceedings  against Attorney General, Basil Williams, SC to prove that the 14 law 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.

Nandlall had explained to the media 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.

However, two days later on April 27, 2017, Nandlall was whisked away from his law office by SOCU officials to their headquarters. As members of the media arrived at the head office, they witnessed Nandlall being brought out by SOCU operatives who indicated that they were taking him to the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts.

Nandlall was arraigned before Georgetown Magistrate, Fabayo Azore on a charge instituted by members of the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) which detailed that, between May 15 and May 29, 2015, while being a bailee (custodian), he had fraudulently converted to his own use and benefit 14 Commonwealth Law Reports, valued at $2.3 million — which he allegedly unlawfully retained after demitting office in 2015.

Defence Attorney Hanoman, argued for self-bail, which was eventually granted to Nandlall on the grounds that he is a former attorney general of Guyana and, in 19 years of legal practice, had never had an incident.

Nandlall continues to maintain that the accusation laid against him by SOCU was instigated by Attorney General, Basil Williams because he [Nandlall] continues to criticise his [Willams’] performance.

“I don’t think anyone would be surprised by the turn of events. The Attorney General promised over a year ago that, should I continue to publicly criticise him, he will make these law books an issue and I will be charged,” Nandlall claimed.

“This has nothing to do with the law books. As I indicated earlier, it has a political and sinister motive. (But) the state will expend millions of tax payers’ money to prosecute this charge, and it will go nowhere.”

The former attorney general expressed conviction that he was being persecuted, and he said this was one of several attempts to embarrass and silence him and to break his spirit. He insisted that the charge should not have even been filed, since he had already begun proceedings in the High Court.

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