Law Books case: Nandlall’s trial set for June 8, prosecution still to get up statements

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Former Attorney General Anil Nandlall making his way from court today

More than one month after Former Attorney General, Anil Nandlall was charged with fraudulently converting 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, the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU) is once again, requesting more time to present statements in court.

Prosecutor, Patrice Henry on Monday told the court that the investigations have not yet concluded and so they do not have full statements to present to the Defence team. The statements withheld have been identified as those from four SOCU officials including Assistant Commissioner, Sydney James.

This request for time caused quite a stir in the courtroom as Nandlall’s lawyers began to accuse the prosecutor and investigators of attempting to fabricate evidence. Moreover, they argued the importance of James’ statements since he was not involved in the investigation.

At the hearing, Nandlall acquiesced to the matter being tried in the Magistrates’ Court rather than in the High Court of law before a Judge and Jury.

The trial date was set for June 8.

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 attorney-at-law, 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 had 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 arraigned before Georgetown Magistrate, Fabayo Azore on a charge instituted by members of SOCU.

Weeks later SOCU returned to court and requested time to present statements.

This news did not sit well with Nandall’s attorneys at that hearing who questioned on what basis was Nandlall charged if investigations were ongoing and statements were incomplete.

“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…to find those statements. Then on what basis was Mr Nandlall charged?,” Attorney-at-Law, Sanjeev Datadin  questioned.

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

“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.”

He insisted that the charge should not have even been filed, since he had already begun proceedings in the High Court.

“The Constitution is very clear: A magistrate ought to defer to the superiority of the High Court and the superior law of the land. Hopefully, at an appropriate stage, that application will be made and it will be dealt with,” he said.

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