Lowenfield’s lawyers want matter tried in High Court
Electoral fraud charges
The legal team representing Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Keith Lowenfield has requested that the fraud charges brought against him be tried in the High Court by a jury.
The misconduct in public office charges were instituted after Lowenfield allegedly attempted to rig the March 2, 2020 elections in favour of the APNU/AFC coalition.
Speaking with Guyana Times on Thursday shortly after Lowenfield’s court hearing, Attorney-at-Law Ronald Daniels related that given the magnitude of the allegations levelled against his client, he believes the matter should be tried in the High Court.
“The allegation is that he has committed fraud against everybody in the country, so the best forum for that is before the High Court, where the jury, as representatives of the people of the country, (would determine) whether fraud has been perpetrated against the country.”
In this regard, the lawyer noted that they have raised serious objections to an application made by the prosecution for summary disposal of the matters, which would allow for their client to plead to the charges and be tried by a Magistrate.
As it is, the charges against Lowenfield are indictable, meaning that the Magistrate would have to conduct a Preliminary Inquiry (PI) to determine whether there is enough evidence to warrant a trial in the High Court.
Daniels explained that the team will lay over submissions in support of the application for a trial by jury later this month. In the meantime, the CEO has been released on $300,000 bail.
Lowenfield was arrested and the allegations of electoral fraud were put to him, but he exercised his right to remain silent while he was being questioned by ranks of the Criminal Investigation Department Headquarters, Eve Leary, Georgetown. The CEO is being accused of attempting to undermine the will of the people by repeatedly refusing to submit the verified results from the National Recount to GECOM Chairperson, Retired Justice Claudette Singh, for a final declaration.
Lowenfield’s report claimed that APNU/AFC coalition garnered 171,825 votes while the PPP/C gained 166,343 votes. How the CEO arrived at those figures is unknown, since the certified results from the legally conducted recount exercise supervised by GECOM and a high-level team from the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) pellucidly showed that the PPP/C won with 233,336 votes while the coalition garnered 217,920.
The recount exercise also proved that District Four Returning Officer Clairmont Mingo heavily inflated the figures in Region Four – Guyana’s largest voting District – in favour of the then caretaker coalition regime.
The private criminal charges filed against Lowenfield by private citizens Josh Kanhai and Desmond Morian for conspiracy to commit fraud, breach of trust in public office, and misconduct in public office, were withdrawn last month by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Senior Counsel Shalimar Ali-Hack.
Also, the private criminal charges filed against Lowenfield by PPP/C election agent, now Minister of Culture Youth and Sport, Charles Ramson Jr, were also withdrawn by the DPP. Other lawyers on Lowenfield’s team are Senior Counsel Neil Boston and Nigel Hughes.
The DPP has since hired a team of Special Prosecutors to prosecute the electoral fraud cases against Lowenfield, along with his clerks, Denise Bob-Cummings and Michelle Miller; Region Four (Demerara-Mahaica) Returning Officer Clairmont Mingo; GECOM Elections Officer Shefern February and Information Technology Officer Enrique Livan; APNU/AFC activist Carol Joseph and Chairperson of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNC/R) and former Health Minister Volda Lawrence.
The DPP has granted a fiat to Attorneys-at-law Sanjeev Datadin, Glenn Hanoman, Mark Conway, Ganesh Hira, Arudranauth Gossai and George Thomas to prosecute them on behalf of the State.