3rd private criminal charge filed against Lowenfield for electoral fraud
…he’s custodian of SoPs, SoRs, knew true results – lawyer
…could face life imprisonment
Embattled Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield has been slapped with a third private criminal charge over allegations of electoral fraud.
Initially, two counts of “Misconduct in Public Office Contrary to the Common Law” charges were filed against him by Desmond Morian and Dr Daniel Josh Kanhai. However, on Friday, Morian brought another private criminal charge of “Conspiracy to Commit a Felony”.
That new charge alleges that between March 5
and June 23, 2020, he conspired with a person or persons unknown to commit common law fraud by presenting to the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) figures in his Elections Report dated March 14, “in order to materially alter the results of the (March 2) elections, with intent to defraud, knowing the said tabulation to be false”.
Custodian of SoPs, SoRs
Attorney Hanoman told reporters on Friday that he is confident in the cases filed by his clients. The lawyer noted that there is compelling evidence to support these claims based on the pattern of Lowenfield’s behaviour since the March 2 elections.
“He is the custodian of the SoPs and the SoRs (Statements of Recount) so he is deemed to know what the true results are. And from his pattern of behaviour, there is clear evidence that he misconducted himself in public office,” he stated.
Hanoman said he is very happy to be prosecuting this matter along with a group of lawyers given the historic nature of these charges.
“Mr Lowenfield is trying to take away my vote and 115,000 votes because of his own negligence. Apparently, he’s saying that supporting documents that he should have are missing. We don’t even know if he looked for it. But he’s saying supporting documents are missing so he’s disenfranchising me and I’m happy to be prosecuting him because I don’t allow anybody to steal from me,” the lawyer asserted.
The tabulation being referred to speaks to embattled Returning Officer for District Four, Clairmont Mingo’s fraudulent declarations. After stakeholders – political parties as well as local and foreign observers – had deemed Mingo’s two declarations as not credible, it was subsequently unearthed during the National Recount that Mingo had heavily inflated the figures to give the caretaker APNU/AFC coalition a landslide lead over the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C), which according to the Statements of Poll (SoPs) from the initial tabulation had won the elections. This was later confirmed during the recount exercise.
During Friday’s hearing at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts, Magistrate Faith McGusty issued a summons for the Chief Elections Officer to be served and appear before the court on July 24 to face the indicatable charges filed against him.
In court, Morian and Dr Kanhai swore to the truth of the allegations of the two initial charges which alleged that the CEO, between March 2 and June 29, wilfully breached the trust of the public by submitting a fraudulent report to GECOM with fabricated figures that invalidated over 115,000 votes instead of using the results emanating from the National Recount as instructed.
The CEO could face life imprisonment if he is found guilty of electoral fraud from these private criminal charges. This is according to Attorney-at-Law Glen Hanoman, who is representing Morian and Kanhai. He told reporters outside the Magistrates’ Courts on Friday morning that these charges attract a penalty of life imprisonment.
Hanoman further related that all “diligent attempts” to serve Lowenfield with the two initial criminal charges have failed. Hence, the presiding Magistrate agreed to compel him to appear in court at the next hearing later this month.
The lawyer explained that the security officials, including the police, at the CEO’s various locations – his office and two home addresses – were “unhelpful” in getting him served.
“So we’re going to try again using the police to serve Mr Lowenfield and hopefully the police that are protecting him will facilitate that process because that is the role of the police.
According to Hanoman, the police have a duty under the Police Act and the Magistrate’s Act to aid the court, especially as it relates to service of legal documents.
“So the police have to assist us in serving Mr Lowenfield now and we hope the other police that he has as his security also understands that this is also their responsibility,” he posited.
Moreover, the lawyer urged the Chief Elections Officer not to resist the service of the summons since such action could be seen as proving the charge.
“[It could appear] as a high public officer, he doesn’t wish to subject himself to the process,” Hanoman stated.
According to the lawyer additional charges are likely to be filed by other persons against both Lowenfield and other staff at the Elections Secretariat over the events that unfolded following the March 2 elections.
The certified results from the legally conducted National Recount that was supervised by GECOM and a high-level Caribbean Community (Caricom) team pellucidly show that the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) won the March 2 elections with 233,336 votes while A Partnership for National Unity/Alliance For Change (APNU/AFC) garnered 217,920.
However, in his final elections report submitted to the GECOM Chair last week, Lowenfield claimed that the caretaker APNU/AFC coalition got 171,825 votes while the PPP/C gained 166,343 votes – which meant he invalidated over 115,000 votes.
This was despite him being clearly instructed by Justice Singh to use the recount figures to prepare his final report.
Lowenfield’s latest attempt to alter the results of the results and deny the will of the people comes on the heels of two previous attempts he made to give legitimacy to the fraudulent declarations of Mingo; hence the third charge against him.
On March 5, Mingo had declared fraudulent results for District Four, prompting the PPP/C to move to the courts which scrapped those results and ordered that the process be done through the legally prescribed procedure. When the process was resumed, Mingo still proceeded to use concocted numbers, and he eventually made a second fraudulent declaration on March 13.
Mingo had declared that the APNU/AFC received 136,057 votes for District Four, while the PPP/C received 77,231. But the certified recount process clearly shows that for Region Four, the APNU/AFC received 116,941 votes while PPP/C got 80,920.
This meant the PPP/C won the March 2 polls by some 15,416 votes.
The Court of Appeal in Guyana ruled last week in the Eslyn David matter that “more votes cast” means “more valid votes cast” in the context of the Recount Order.
PPP/C has since approached the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) to challenge the jurisdiction of the Appeal Court to hear and pronounce on the matter filed by David, who is a known coalition supporter.
The Trinidad-based regional court is expected to deliver its ruling on Wednesday, July 8, 2020, after a marathon hearing earlier this week.