Joseph, Lawrence and Mingo with their lawyer Darren Wade (Guyana Chronicle Photo)
Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan has fixed March 2, 2021, to listen to submissions from lawyers for Chairperson of the People’s National Congress Reform (PNC/R) Volda Lawrence, embattled Region Four Returning Officer Clairmont Mingo, and APNU+AFC activist, Carol Joseph, on how the court should proceed with the electoral fraud charges against them.
On their last court appearance in the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court, the prosecution laid over submissions to the court outlining that it intends to have the matters disposed of summary, meaning a trial in the Magistrates’ Courts.
It is however understood that lawyers for Mingo, Lawrence, and Joseph are desirous of the charges remaining indictable which will require the Magistrate to conduct a Preliminary Inquiry (PI) to determine whether there is sufficient evidence for them to stand trial before a judge and jury at the High Court.
One month after the PPP/C Government took office, the trio was hauled before the courts in relation to the events that unfolded after the close of polls on March 2, 2020.
It is alleged that on March 5, 2020, with intent to defraud, Lawrence and Mingo uttered a certain document, that is to say, a report purporting to be a true declaration of all votes cast in District Four for the March 2, 2020, general and regional elections knowing that the report was forged.
It was further alleged that Mingo and Joseph on March 13, 2020, uttered a forged document purporting to be a true report of all votes cast in the March 2, 2020, general and regional elections knowing that the report was forged.
It is also alleged that on March 13, 2020, Joseph conspired with Mingo and others to declare a fraudulent count of votes for District Four.
Prominent Attorney-at-Law Nigel Hughes and associates are representing the trio. They have all been released on monetary bail pending the hearing and determination of their cases.
On February 11, 2021, Senior Magistrate Leron Daly ruled that she will be conducting a PI into the two misconduct in public office charges laid against Deputy Chief Elections Officer (DCEO), Roxanne Myers.
In doing so, the Magistrate upheld submissions by Hughes who had asked that the charges against his client remain indictable and for the Magistrate to conduct a PI to determine whether there is sufficient evidence against Myers to warrant a trial in the High Court.
The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Shalimar Ali-Hack, SC, has since given notice of her intention to appeal the Magistrate’s decision.
The charges against Myers states that between March 4 and March 14, 2020, in Georgetown, while being a public officer, she wilfully misconducted herself together with Mingo and others, to declare a fraudulent account of votes for the General and Regional Elections which amounted to a breach of the public’s trust without any reasonable excuse or justification.
She has been released on $300,000 bail.
Meanwhile, Chief Elections Officer, Keith Lowenfield is also facing misconduct in public office charges. Lowenfield is accused of attempting to undermine the will of the Guyanese people after he repeatedly refused to submit the verified results from the national recount of all ballots to GECOM Chairperson, retired Judge Claudette Singh for a final declaration.
According to Lowenfield’s report, the then caretaker APNU/AFC coalition gained 171,825 votes and the PPP/C 166,343 votes. But how he arrived at these figures is a mystery since the national recount of all ballots which was supervised by a high-level team from CARICOM revealed that the PPP/C won the elections having obtained 233,336 votes while the coalition garnered 217,920.
The recount also showed that Mingo inflated the votes for Region Four- Guyana’s largest voting district in favour of the APNU/AFC.
Also charged for electoral fraud are Lowenfield’s clerks, Denise Bob-Cummings and Michelle Miller, GECOM Elections Officer Shefern February, and Information Technology Officer Enrique Livan. They too have been released on monetary bail.
The DPP has since hired a team of Special Prosecutors to prosecute these electoral fraud matters on behalf of the State.