Magistrate orders PI into misconduct charges against GECOM’s Deputy CEO
Attempts to rig elections
In a ruling handed down on Thursday, Senior Magistrate Leron Daly has ruled that a Preliminary Inquiry (PI) will be conducted into the two counts of misconduct in public office against Deputy Chief Elections Officer (DCEO) Roxanne Myers.
This is according to Myers’s lawyer Nigel Hughes, who explained that the Magistrate upheld submissions proferred by him for the charges to be made indictable.
This means that the presiding Magistrate will now conduct a PI to determine whether there is sufficient evidence to commit Myers to stand trial at the High Court.
Hughes informed that Special Prosecutor Ganesh Hira has given notice of the Director of Public Prosecutions’ (DPP) intention to appeal the decision of Magistrate Daly. The matter will be called again at a later date for report.
Myers was not required to plead to the indictable charges, which stated that, during the period March 4 and 14, 2020, she wilfully misconducted herself in declaring fraudulent results for the March 2, 2020 General and Regional Elections.
She has been placed on $300,000 bail in relation to both charges.
The DPP has hired a team of special prosecutors to prosecute the electoral fraud cases against Chief Elections Officer (CEO) Keith Lowenfield, DCEO Myers, GECOM 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 People’s National Congress Reform (PNC/R) Chairperson, former Public Health Minister Volda Lawrence.
Given the magnitude of the allegations levelled against Lowenfield, Mingo, Myers, and others, Hughes had laid over submissions to the court, asking that the matters be tried in the High Court. During a previous interview, Attorney-at-Law Ronald Daniels said, “The allegation is that he [Lowenfield] 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.”
The more than 25 matters are currently before three magistrates – Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan and Magistrates Sherdel Isaacs-Marcus and Leron Daly. While Magistrate Daly has decided on what mode the charges against Myers will take, the Chief Magistrate and Magistrate Isaacs-Marcus are yet to rule on whether to hear the matters summarily and dispose of them in the Magistrates Courts, or conduct a PI to determine if there is sufficient evidence for them to face trial at the High Court.
One of the Special Prosecutors, Attorney-at-Law Glenn Hanoman, had explained that Hughes’s application for the matters to remain indictable would not only cause the matter to be prolonged in the courts, but also put the accused at risk of facing more severe sentencing, including life sentences.
“Usually, defence lawyers will always prefer a summary trial, because the magistrates have a statutory maximum penalty that they can impose, that is, five years; whereas, if you go to a judge and jury, you can get life imprisonment… So, I believe that the applications by the defence are really meant to delay justice rather than for any other proper purpose,” he said.
Moreover, Hanoman pointed out that the individual matters can also be consolidated and heard together in the lower court, since they all have the same witnesses and evidence. He added that such matters have never been in the High Court before.
Shortly after the PPP/C Government took office on August 02, 2020, the Police instituted charges against Lowenfield and others.
Lowenfield is facing three counts of forgery and three counts of misconduct in public office. He has been placed on $300,000 bail. Mingo is facing similar charges; in fact, four of them. He was ordered to post bail in the sum of $600,000.
Lawrence, on the other hand, was slapped with two charges of conspiracy to commit fraud at the March 02, 2020, General and Regional Elections. She was placed on bail. Joseph is charged jointly with Mingo for forgery. Meanwhile, Livian is facing fraud charges, while February is accused of conspiring to commit fraud. They have all been placed on bail.
Lowenfield’s report claimed that APNU/AFC coalition garnered 171,825 votes while the PPP/C gained 166,343 votes. How he arrived at those figures is still unknown. The certified results from the 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 Mingo heavily inflated the figures in Region Four – Guyana’s largest voting District – in favour of the then caretaker APNU/AFC regime.