Election Fraud trial set to begin on July 29

Election Fraud trial set to begin on July 29

City Magistrate, Leron Daly has announced that the criminal trial in the elections fraud case against former Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield; his former deputy, Roxanne Myers; and a number of other election officers and opposition members, will commence on July 29. 

Lowenfield and Myers, along with the former Region Four Returning Officer, Clairmont Mingo; Opposition Member of Parliament, Volda Lawrence; People’s National Congress Reform (PNC/R) Member Carol Smith-Joseph; and Election Officers Sheffern February, Enrique Livan, Denise Bobb-Cummings and Michelle Miller are facing a total of 28 charges of attempting to commit fraud at the 2020 General and Regional Elections.

When the case was called in the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court today, Special Prosecutor Darshan Ramdhani, informed Magistrate Daly that the Constitutional challenge filed by Lowenfield and Myers, over a perceived breach of their Constitutional right to a fair trial was dismissed by the Chief Justice.

Against that backdrop, the City Magistrate proceeded to set the dates for trial.

The trial will commence at 10:00hrs on July 29, 2024, and will continue until July 31, and then it will restart on August 5 for another two days. 

More than 80 witnesses are expected to take the stand during the trial.

Special Prosecutor Darshan Ramdhani

In a telephone interview with News Source, the Special Prosecutor Darshan Ramdhani, said the prosecution is ready to proceed with the trial, and would be putting a number of witnesses on the stand during the first days of the trial.

“We will start with one, and we will have more in Court, depending on how fast we can get through the witness, and we expect that every defence lawyer would want to cross examine a witness, so that when we start with one witness, if they don’t cross-examine, we will have the second one ready to go, then the third, and the fourth, and so on. That’s the approach,” the Attorney said. 

Minister of Local Government, Sonia Parag, and Communications Consultant Kit Nascimento are among the first set of witnesses to be called. 

 On the issue of the Constitutional challenge filed by Lowenfield and Myers that was dismissed by the High Court, Ramdanhi said the High Court had every right to dismiss it. 

“The Chief Justice was absolutely correct to dismiss the matter, as being, I suppose, effectively without merit. The Chief Justice indicated that they were on a fishing expedition, and there was no basis for the application to be made to the High Court, and that was the correct thing to do,” the King Counsel said. 

Lowenfield and Myers had contended that Section 140 (2) of the Representation of the People Act breached their right to a fair trial, as guaranteed by Article 144, and their right to equality before the law, as guaranteed by Article 149 (D) of the Constitution.

As such, in early March, City Magistrate Leron Daly referred the question of “fair hearing” to the High Court, taking into account that the Representation of the Peoples’ Act, bars the disclosures of minutes of meetings held by the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM). 

Lowenfield and Myers were contending that their actions were guided by the decisions of the Commission chronicled in those minutes, and it would only be fair for the minutes to be disclosed. 

But the Chief Justice (ag), in dismissing the challenge, said the Court found no evidence that their Constitutional rights were likely to be infringed. The Court also found that the public interest in ensuring that GECOM’s deliberations remain confidential, overrides whatever Constitutional rights that Lowenfield and Myers might enjoy. (Svetana Marshall)

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